Home > "Motown: The Musical" thru 11/22 (review)
"Motown: The Musical" thru 11/22 (review)

Short Description of "Motown: The Musical" thru 11/22 (review)

“Motown: The Musical” (thru 11/22/15)(review)

At Proctors

State St

Schenectady, NY


Motown. Say it, and you’ll hear people jump for joy, shout “Where” from the rooftops, as if a famous star just walked by, and you will feel your skin crawl with insatiable excitement. It is a name synonymous with American musical revolution, and brings memories of Marvin, Stevie, Diana and more. Motown is revolution that walked the path through some very tumultuous times in American history. But the musical—is it any good?? To be fair, this musical has some really big shoes to fill.

Unfortunately, this show will be remembered only because of the music it pretends to portray. This is a ‘good’ show, with moments of greatness, instead of a ‘great’ show, with moments of goodness, because of some key flops in the script. The performers keep this show alive, but sadly, you won’t hear too many of your favorite songs from start to finish. The script is a potpourri of facts strewn together, surrounding the hits and linking them together with history, but its core is designed to throw you off course the second you hear your favorite songs. Nothing is ever finished. Start the sing-a-long, and the song changes. By Act 2, you ‘get it’ and don’t bother bopping your head anymore, because you know you will soon be disappointed when the song ends after a few seconds. This will leave you terribly frustrated, because only a few songs are completed in their entirety.

The problems with “Motown: The Musical” come in two forms: First, is it a sound script with great characters; 2) Does it satisfy our blood lust for Motown, Motown and more Motown.

The script is really nothing more than a stich work of Motown snippets strung together with some text that follows the life and times of Barry Gordy, who founded Motown in 1959. America was a different America back then, for sure, and along with the rise and fall of Motown, we are treated to vignettes of Dr. King, the assassination of Kennedy and more. The vignettes, along with some homegrown songs for the play, make an appearance, but not long enough or ferociously enough to drive the history lessons home. When either King or Kennedy are assassinated, you don’t feel the stab in your heart as you should and usually do. In addition, the characters don’t get built into the script--they appear, as if by magic. “Oh, hi Marvin. Oh, hi Stevie. Oh hi, Diana.” And voila, your characters appear in full gown and you know them.

The second aspect is if “Motown: The Musical” satisfies our thirst for more Motown. The answer to that question, too, is ‘no’. Your favorite songs will appear, but most of them hit the chord only for a few beats, leaving you angry and frustrated that the full detail wasn’t song out by the performers who no doubt have the ability to perform.

Where this show does shine is in the talent. Act I, though a tad slow, finishes with “War”. What the piece lacks in ferocity is made up for by the wonderful ensemble of very gifted singers. In Act 2, we are treated to a hilarious appearance by Ed Sullivan, an absolutely amazing Michael Jackson (Leon Outlaw, Jr), and a Diana Ross second to none (Syndee Winters). Winters carried the show and was strong throughout, in a way we would only expect the real Ms. Ross to be.

We love Motown. Personally, I can’t get enough of it. But the script here stopped a very talented cast from doing what they do best, and that is, sing our favorites, from start to finish. Stop the script, let this cast do their thing, and you will have a great show—not just a good one.

  --Richard DiMaggio, didyouweekend.com

2 hours, 30 minutes, with intermission

Contact Information

Address: State St, Schenectady, NY, USA

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