Barry Gordy Jr. the founder of Motown is taking Motown to Broadway. Gordy’s life story and the great artists of Motown will shine on Broadway in “Motown: The Musical” in the springtime of 2013.
Gordy, who is 82 years old, wrote the musical and he will be a co-producer of the production along with Kevin McCollum (“Rent,” “Avenue Q,” “In the Heights”), and Sony Entertainment Chairman, CEO, and longtime music business friend Doug Morris. The director of the musical is Charles Randolph-Wright of “Ruined,” “Sophisticated Ladies,” and “Through the Night” fame.
In a statement to Rolling Stone back in April Gordy said, “It’s the truth about Motown, how it happened, why it happened, and who the people were and the ups and downs of the whole thing. I’m very delighted just to be involved.”
The musical will highlight Barry Gordy Jr.’s life and how he discovered and helped mold the careers of Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Marvin Gaye. These singers and songwriters will all be characters in the play.
Motown started on January 12, 1959 in Detroit when Gordy a struggling songwriter, borrowed an $800 loan from family in order to start a record company on West Grand Boulevard. He created the R&B label Tamla Records, which turned into the Motown Records Cooperation on April 14, 1960, according to Broadway.com.
Gordy wanted a sound from all races and the music was dubbed “The Sound of Young America” during the 1960s. In 1988, Gordy sold the record company, but kept the rights to the songs for several more years. McCollum, a producer of the musical said, “Motown and Berry Gordy’s influence on music and our culture is unparalleled. I’m thrilled to have the chance to produce the story of the rise of Motown on Broadway,” according to DetroitNews.com.
Gordy had a remarkable gift for finding and putting together talent, and controlling their public image for Motown. He has written or co-written 240 songs for Motown’s music catalogue, Jobete. In 1988, Gordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Producer Doug Morris told the Associated Press “Motown: The Musical” will be “…an amazing opportunity for everyone to experience the Motown phenomenon through the eyes of the man who lived it.”
Barry Gordy Jr. said, “Broadway is the pinnacle of live theater and provides a challenging and exciting opportunity to tell my story and share the magic of Motown. I’ve discovered that Motown and Broadway have a lot in common — a family of wonderfully talented, passionate, hard-working young people, fiercely competitive but also full of love and appreciation for the work, for each other and for the people in the audience. I can’t wait to feel that same Motown spirit come alive on stage every night,” according to Broadway.com.
“Motown: The Musical” is scheduled to be shown at the Nederlander Theatre. However, there is no word yet on an opening date, the cast, or which songs will be performed. Still veterans of Broadway already think that “Motown: The Musical” will be a hit.
Eva Price, producer of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and a version of the upcoming show of “Annie” said, “These are artists who each had such emotion and heart and power, who were trying to find their footing in the industry. I would not be surprised if they really hit a home run,” according to the NY Daily News.