The West End production of Motown the Musical today (20 May 2016) releases over 350,000 tickets for sale with the show now booking at the Shaftesbury Theatre to 28 October 2017. With music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Motown the Musical also announces that Obioma Ugoala will join the cast in the role of Smokey Robinson from 4 July 2016.
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.
Obioma Ugoala (Smokey Robinson) joins Cedric Neal as Berry Gordy, Lucy St. Louis as Diana Ross and Sifiso Mazibuko as Marvin Gaye, who lead the cast of Motown the Musical. They are joined by Keisha Amponsa Banson as Mary Wells, Cindy Belliot as Anna Gordy, Samuel Edwards as Jackie Wilson, Tanya Nicole Edwards as Florence Ballard, Portia Harry as Teena Marie, Aisha Jawando as Martha Reeves, Joshua Liburd as Eddie Kendricks, Simeon Montague as Jermaine Jackson, Cleopatra Rey as Gladys Knight, Brandon Lee Sears as Tito Jackson, Jordan Shaw as Stevie Wonder and Cherelle Williams as Mary Wilson. Eshan Gopal, 12 years old from Kingsbury, London, Kwame Kandekore, 13 years old from Leicester and Bradley Morton, 11 years old from Oxford alternate the role of Young Michael Jackson. They are joined by swings and ensemble members Jay Bryce, Daniel Bailey, Edward Baruwa, Eddie Elliott, Christopher Fry, Alex Hammond, Edward Handoll, Simon Ray Harvey, Elias Hendricks, Brian James Leys, Jayde Nelson, Kieran McGinn, Simone Mistry Palmer, Carl Spencer and Marcel J Whyte.
Obioma Ugoala’s (Smokey Robinson) previous theatre credits include Richard II, Henry IV part I & II, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Holy Warriors and Antony and Cleopatra for Shakespeare’s Globe, The Jungle Book and Crime and Punishment for the Glasgow Citizens Theatre and The Physicists for the Donmar Warehouse. His television credits have included Doctors for the BBC and on film he will be seen in the upcoming Disney live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
Tony nominated Motown the Musical received its world premiere in April 2013 in New York and recouped its $18 million investment by the end of 2014. The first US National Tour opened to critical acclaim in Spring 2014 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 will return to Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre for an 18 week run from July.
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 honoured 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.
The original Broadway cast recording of Motown the Musical is available via Motown Records, a label of UMG Recordings – www.classicmotown.com
Photo: Alastair Muir