REVIEW: Dancing in the Seats at Motown the Musical

Ah, summer is here and the time is right for music to wake up the limbs and light up your heart! Motown the Musical is a crowd-pleasing, rousing, and groovy trip through the history of pop music and America. It is not a music revue, but an exploration of the changes in the American culture through songs that, even today, pack a joyful and powerful jolt.

It’s also the best Diana Ross concert I never saw.

It is the story of songwriter Berry Gordy (Kenneth Mosley) and the founding of Motown Records. Bookended by the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Motown, in 1983, it explores the artists and music that forever transformed the culture and the music industry. Numbers such as “What’s Going On”, “Ball of Confusion”, and “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)” ring as true today as they did over 45 years ago.

The show examines Berry’s ambitious business ideas, how he discovered and developed artists, and brought to the world Jackie Wilson, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and many, many more. Out of all these greats perhaps the most significant artists were Diana Ross (Trenyce) with her superstar glamour and Marvin Gaye (the lovely Matt Manuel) with his social activism. The influence they had is vividly presented. The romantic relationship between Berry and Diana is explored too. Eventually, the changes in the industry catch up to Berry, the company, and his relationships.

Mr. Mosley is terrific! He plays Berry Gordon’s leadership with confident authority. Ms. Trenyce is fabulous- she captures Diana Ross’ charisma, graceful gestures, and her breathy speaking voice. The entire cast is super talented with great voices. Fantastic! And there may be a chance for the audience to participate in one of the numbers…

The show features beautiful costumes- I want the dress Martha Reeves wore! The sets are simple but with great colourful graphics. The scene with the Jackson 5 is especially fun and spectacular.

The show left me dancing in my seat and in the streets. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Motown the Musical: presented by evenko and Broadway Across Canada and Work Light Productions. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. Book by Berry Gordy. Music and Lyrics from The Legendary Motown Catalogue. Show runs until June 24, 2018 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, 175 Ste.-Catherine Street West, Montreal. For tickets, call the box office at 514-842-2112 (or 1-866-842-2112) or go to


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