Motown the Musical | Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Motown the Musical Closing (Theater and Galleries) Member Picks Recommended The Short List (Theater)

When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 9 2014

It's legacy time for 84-year-old Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., and he hasn't taken any chances: he not only coproduced but wrote the book for this jukebox musical tracing his life from 1938 to Motown's 25th anniversary in 1983. Gordy's Gordy is a wholesome hustler who works too hard, gives too much, and practices an if-you-love-it-set-it-free philosophy when the musicians he's nurtured "like a father" move on to bigger labels. Even a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed against him by the Holland/Dozier/Holland songwriting team earns a bewildered, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger response. In short, don't expect any intense self-scrutiny here. What you can expect is a whole lot of hits from the absurdly great catalog Gordy developed with ridiculously talented artists like Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. Ethan Popp's arrangements all tend to end the same way. But the singing and choreography in Charles Randolph-Wright's two-and-a-half-hour touring production are exhilarating. Chicagoan Allison Semmes is something special as Diana Ross. —Tony Adler

Price: $37-$102


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