Charl Brown (Smokey Robinson) and Sifiso Mazibuko (Marvin Gaye) join the previously announced Cedric Neal (Berry Gordy) and Lucy St. Louis (Diana Ross) in the West End production of Motown the Musical. 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. Earlier this week it was announced that Motown the Musical will return to Broadway for an 18 week run in July next year.
Joining Charl Brown, Sifiso Mazibuko, Cedric Neal and Lucy St. Louis are Keisha Amponsa Banson (Mary Wells), Cindy Belliot (Anna Gordy), Samuel Edwards (Jackie Wilson), Portia Harry (Teena Marie), Aisha Jawando (Martha Reeves), Joshua Liburd (Eddie Kendricks), Simeon Montague (Jermaine Jackson), Cleopatra Rey (Gladys Knight), Brandon Lee Sears (Tito Jackson), Jordan Shaw (Stevie Wonder), Cherelle Williams (Mary Wilson) and 12 year old Eshan Gopal from Kingsbury, London, 13 year old Kwame Kandekore from Leicester and 11 year old Joshua Tikare from Bromley who will alternate the role of Young Michael Jackson. They are joined by swings and ensemble members Daniel Bailey, Edward Baruwa, Tanya Nicole Edwards, Eddie Elliott, Christopher Fry, Alex Hammond, Edward Handoll, Simon Ray Harvey, Elias Hendricks, Brian James Leys, Jayde Nelson, Simone Mistry Palmer, Carl Spencer and Marcel J Whyte. Final casting will be announced shortly.
Charl Brown’s previous portrayal of Smokey Robinson in the Broadway production of Motown the Musical earned him a 2013 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. His earlier theatre credits include the role of Hud on the European Tour of Hair, Jersey Boys on Broadway and in Las Vegas and the Off-Broadway production of Walmartopia. Brown’s Broadway debut in 2011 was in the original cast of Sister Act. Brown is currently travelling across the United States with his group The Doowop Project.*
Sifiso Mazibuko’s (Marvin Gaye) UK theatre credits include The Tempest for Flute Theatre, A Land Without People and The First Actress for Palindrome Productions, Hector at The Courtyard Theatre and Dancers performed in both London and New York. His American theatre credits include the theatre is a blank page produced by Anne Bogart, Ann Hamilton & the SITI company. Mazibuko also performed in Shaka Zulu the Musical at the State Theatre in South Africa, was part of the Asian Tour of African Footprint and was in Dreamgirls the Musical in South Africa. His film credits include Pretville.
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.
*Charl Brown is appearing with the support of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.
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.
Photo: Hugo Glendinning