Motown The Musical will open on the West End next month, following the legendary career of Berry Gordy and the creation of his musical empire, Motown Records.
Opening at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre on 11 February, the story begins in 1983, on the evening of the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown, and Berry Gordy is looking back on his career.
With a young Berry dreaming big and looking to his childhood hero, black American boxer Joe Louis, for inspiration, he sets his sights on bringing a socially charged, racially divided country together with music.
With an $800 loan from his family, Berry founds a music making factory. The infamous label, Motown Records, is born!
Berry went on to sign the groundbreaking likes of Diana Ross, the Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and so many more.
“When I founded Motown I had no idea it would become the worldwide musical influence it did,” Berry reflects, “and I certainly never dreamed it would carry me to the stage, first on Broadway and now around the world to the West End.”
Adding, “In many ways London is a natural home for us. England opened her arms to our first Motortown Revue in 1965 and gave us the gateway to Europe and the world.
“The music, drama and showmanship of Motown were made for the West End. The soaring melodies and lyrics of all the Motown songs tell their own story, but they also reveal more. Until now, no one has ever truly had the chance to see the story of Motown from the perspective of those who created it.”
“I’ve always thought of Motown as a family, where competition bred champions but where we never let the competition get in the way of our love and trust in one another,” he says. “I am thrilled after all these years to bring the Motown family to London, and I can’t think of any place where we might find a more welcoming and talented community.
“I still get chills when I hear Diana Ross sing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, or the Jackson 5 sing I Want You Back, or Martha and the Vandellas sing Dancing in the Street, and I know these songs will fill the West End with joyful, happy people of all races and ages listening to a music and a sound that not only take us back, but that can still propel us up out of our seats to come together as one.”
Concluding simply, Berry says, “Motown is a dream that happened to come true and it has always had a home in the hearts and minds of those that love the music. I am proud to say it now has a home in London.”
Motown The Musical opens at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre on 11 February, book now at Ticketmaster.co.uk.