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Motown The Musical – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Written by Luke Henry and Hannah Watkins
3rd October 2019

“Who Knows? Maybe we will even visit Southampton.”

Motown the Musical made its way to Southampton on Tuesday for the opening night of the show at Mayflower Theatre. For 12 nights, people around the South coast will have the chance to see a wonderful show filled with everyone’s favourite classics performed by an outstanding cast.

The show itself highlights the power of music and the story behind Motown. It shows how it became a massive success in the 60s whilst trying to produce music for everyone. It follows Berry Gordy and his Motel record label which started with a small loan of 800 dollars from his family. Working with Diana Ross, Jackson Five and Marvin Gaye, we see Gordy at the top of his game. However, we also see the financial difficulties he faces throughout his journey, making for a very captivating story.

With a non-stop array of songs, you can’t help but quietly sing along – and maybe if you sit close enough you might just be part of the action yourself! Some of the classics include Stop! In The Name Of Love, I Want You Back, My Girl, I’m Coming Out and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, and plenty more!

The cast – where do we start? Edward Baruwa’s stunning portrayal as Berry Gordy had the audience full attention from the very start. He makes you feel part of the action and personalises the performance to the location, and at one point even states: “Who knows? Maybe we will even visit Southampton.” A character filled with warmth, emotion and sarcastic humour. With his brilliant vocals, you can’t fault his class performance.

Other cast members include the beautiful Karis Anderson for her role as Diana Ross. A flirtatious character who charmed the audience with her sass and style. Her combination of spectacular vocals and on stage presence worked great alongside Edward Baruwa. Other mentions include Nathan Lewis as Smokey Robinson and Reece Richards as Marvin Gaye who both oozed charisma in their respective roles. And we can’t forget young Michael Jackson who stole the show played by Carlo Brathwaithe. The audience couldn’t help but clap along to the Jackson Five.

With a standing ovation it was clear to see how much the audience loved the show. Everyone was standing up at the end dancing and singing along with all the cast.

As well as the music, costumes were also to be admired. Designer, Emilio Sosa, did a great job with the outfits by producing vibrant and slick pieces. The choreography echoed the costumes with Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams behind the numbers. One part of the musical to mention is the song War, which was a great act as well as the Jackson Five routine.

All in all, Motown doesn’t just provide laughs and classic tracks, it also gives the audience a good understanding of the creation of Motown and the affect it’s had on people throughout it’s first 25 years.

So, get ready – you will come out of the theatre dancing in the street!

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