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THEATRE - Soul of Motown Shows Forgotten Side of Classic Songs

Stage West shines a light on Holland-Dozier-Holland

Theatre Review by Jason Clevett (From January 2022 Online)
THEATRE - Soul of Motown Shows Forgotten Side of Classic Songs: Stage West shines a light on Holland-Dozier-Holland

The concept of Jukebox Musicals has become very popular in recent decades. A score that features identifiable songs frequently equals success. There are two kinds of Jukebox Musicals – ones that feature an original story built around songs (Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, Jagged Little Pill) and ones that tell the story of the artist (Tina, The Cher Show, Jersey Boys, Ain’t to Proud to Beg.) All these shows have been hits on Broadway and in London’s West End.

Having seen many of those afore-mentioned musicals, it is fair to say that Stage West’s original production Soul of Motown would fit in perfectly on one of those stages.

Written by Gregg Ostrin, Howard Pechet and Shirley Washington, the show explores the lives and careers of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie — a.k.a. Holland-Dozier-Holland. You may not know the names offhand, but you know their songs, which skyrocketed the careers of The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and others and put Barry Gordy’s Motown Records on the map.

The music industry has always been tough, the search for the next big hit, the long list of artists that were one hit wonders, and the goal to sell, sell, sell. All of this and the toll it takes on relationships is explored in the show.

The leads in the show are Matthew Joseph (Lamont Dozier), Nathaniel Judah (Eddie Holland) and Danilo Reyes (Brian Holland), who deliver the roles with heart, really capturing the time. Amanda De Frietas shines as Diana Ross, while Gabriel Isiah Davenport’s Barry Gordy captures the legendary label heads at times frustrating behaviour. The ensemble brings to life the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops and more.

With over a quarter of a billion records sold, multiple hall of fame inductions, and a list of mega hits, patrons will know many of the songs, even if you weren’t alive during the 1960’s & 1970’s. Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Stop in the Name of Love, and Reach Out (I’ll Be There) are just a few of the standouts that had the audience tapping their feet and singing along.

The show definitely has potential to grow beyond Stage West to larger stages around the world. You should take advantage of the opportunity to see it before it does.

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Contributor Jason Clevett |

Locale Calgary |

Topic Stagewest | Theatre |


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