Cast announced for Motown the Musical opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre in February 2016
Cedric Neal (Berry Gordy) and Lucy St. Louis (Diana Ross) will lead the cast in the West End production of Motown the Musical, opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre in February 2016. With music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy,Motown the Musical is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. London previews will begin on 11 February 2016,with press night on 8 March 2016, with the show booking to 22 October 2016.
Further casting includes Keisha Amponsa Banson (Mary Wells), Cherelle Williams (Mary Wilson), Cleopatra Rey(Gladys Knight), Cindy Belliot (Anna Gordy), Aisha Jawondo (Martha Reeves), Samuel Edwards (Jackie Wilson), Brandon Lee Sears (Tito Jackson), Joshua Liburd(Eddie Kendricks) and Simeon Montague (Jermaine Jackson). They are joined by Daniel Bailey, Edward Baruwa, Tanya Nicola Edwards, Eddie Elliot, Portia Harry and Simon Ray Harvey. Final full casting will be announced shortly.
Cedric Neal‘s (Berry Gordy) US theatre credits include After Midnight on Broadway, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess on Broadway and for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Dreamgirls for the Signature Theatre for which he won a Helen Hayes Award, The Who’s Tommy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Stagger Lee for the Dallas Theater Center. Neal has also worked at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Zach Theater and was a recurring character on the television series Friday Night Lights.
Lucy St. Louis (Diana Ross) is currently performing in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre. Her previous theatre credits include The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Ragtime for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Peter Pan for the Venue Cymru, Llandudno and Ultimate Broadway for the Shanghai Culture Square Theatre. On film, she will be seen in the upcoming Disney live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
With just $800 borrowed from his family, Motown founder Berry Gordy, goes from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul, discovering and launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more. Motown the Musical uncovers the true story of the legendary record label that changed music history and created the soundtrack of a generation.
Featuring a sixteen piece orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks including Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’ll Be There, Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl and I Heard It through the Grapevine, Charles Randolph-Wright’s production tells the story behind the classic hits.
Tony nominated Motown the Musical received its world premiere in April 2013 in New York at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and recouped its $18 million investment by the end of 2014. The first US National Tour opened to critical acclaim last spring in Chicago, grossing $20 million dollars during its standing room only sixteen-week run, and continues to play to packed houses across America.
Motown the Musical has music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Ethan Popp, co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Bryan Cook, dance arrangements by Zane Mark and music direction by Gareth Weedon. Choreography is by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams, scenic design by David Korins, costumes by Esosa, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Peter Hylenski and projections by Daniel Brodie. UK associate director is Tara Wilkinson, UK associate set designer is Andrew Edwards and UK associate lighting designer is Alistair Grant. Motown the Musical will be produced in the West End by Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris, Berry Gordy and Adam Spiegel.
Berry Gordy is the founder of Motown, the enterprise that nurtured the careers of, amongst others, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 and more. Gordy is also a songwriter, producer, director, boxer, innovative entrepreneur, teacher and visionary. Actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, he also released the recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His films include Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues,which received five Academy Award nominations. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Pioneer Award, the Grammy Salute To Industry Icon’s President’s Merit Award and was honored by President Barack Obama with a Salute to Motown evening at the White House. Berry Gordy’s unparalleled contribution to music and popular culture is chronicled in his autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown.
Charles Randolph-Wright is a director, writer and producer for theatre, film, and television. His theatre directing credits include Motown the Musical on Broadway and the US tour, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined and Sophisticated Ladies at Arena Stage where he is an inaugural resident playwright, the 75th Anniversary international tour of Porgy and Bess, Love/Life at Lincoln Center with Brian Stokes Mitchell, the national tour of Guys and Dolls, They’re Playing Our Song in Brazil in Portuguese, and most recently, the world premiere of Akeelah and the Bee. Randolph-Wright wrote the plays Blue, The Night Is A Child, Cuttin’ Up, Love in Afghanistan, and co-wrote Just Between Friends – Bea Arthuron Broadway. He directed the award-winning film Preaching to the Choir, and has written screenplays for HBO, Showtime, Disney and Fox. His television credits include directing Lincoln Heights, South of Nowhere, Bebe Winans’ special America America, the “Freestyle” football commercial for Nike, and producing and writing the Showtime series Linc’s.
Photo: Joan Marcus