Trenyce (center) stars as Diana Ross in "Motown the Musical." Photo by Joan Marcus
The history of Motown is best told in the unforgettable music that came out of the Detroit record label founded by the visionary Berry Gordy. That being said, “Motown the Musical” delights when it’s showcasing that music, everything from Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye to Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder. When this lengthy jukebox musical stops the music to tell the story of Motown, of Gordy’s trials and tribulations, of his romance with Ross, of the various seminal artists’ evolution, it cools off and turns intermittently melodramatic.
But so infectious are the songs, faithfully performed by a very talented cast that includes Trenyce as Ross and Matt Manuel as Gaye, that one can forgive the less-involving storytelling. Broadway San Diego is staging this Motown fans’ treat through Dec. 31 at the Civic Theatre, downtown. In case you need reminders of Motown’s greatness, here’s a short sample of the dozens of songs that are performed in this show (be forewarned – some of them are performed only in part):
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
“I Want You Back”
“Heard it Through the Grapevine”
“Dancing in the Street”
“You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me”
“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
“Please, Mr. Postman”
And many, many more.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat