With meaty wah wah coming from the guitars and a brass section to die for, Motown introduces itself from the pit of the Shaftesbury Theatre with a musical promise that it then delivers on in bucket loads!
If you love Motown (and let’s face it, with that back catalogue who couldn’t find something to love) then this is the show for you. OK, Thriller Live, might give you a taste of what is in stall but, whilst the Jackson 5 and young Michael Jackson (the role alternately played by 12 year old Londoner, Eshan Gopal and, 13 year old, Kwame Kandekore) are given a welcome that MJ himself would have been proud to receive, the show belongs to Cedric Neal as Berry Gordy, Sifiso Mazibuko who plays a terrific Marvin Gaye, Lucy St Louis as Diana Ross and Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson.
Hit after hit are rolled out: sometimes with just a couple of lines dropped into the action, at other times we are able to enjoy full songs.
It has to be said that the dialogue does little to enhance the enjoyment of the night, but I don’t think anyone in the packed auditorium (yes, even on a wet Wednesday night) were particulary worried by the absence of flowing prose and iambic pentameter. It would be another matter, entirely if they failed to sing Reet Petite, My Guy, Get Ready or War!
At a time when theatre audiences are being criticised for being somewhat mono-cultural it was good to see a wide range of people in the theatre. It was also lovely to see a large number of younger people. A huge group of school children dominated the dress circle on the night we went and, whilst some people in the audience seemed incapable of concentrating on the show through the slightest whisper of a crisp packet or murmered comment, it was good to see that they were just as enamored, with the music of a generation 50 years their senior, as the rest of the audience.
So it is a show for all seasons and an easily recommendable one for anyone looking for a good night out.
Motown is at the Shaftesbury Theatre and is currently booking to 28 October 2017. More information on the show and theatre breaks is available at https://www.theatrebreaks.com/london/shows/motown-the-musical