Musical Revue by Howard Pechet & Timothy French
Directed and Choreographed by Timothy French
Musical direction by Michael Lerner
Performed by Troy Adams, Karen Andrew, Tafari Anthony, Andrew Broderick, Louise Camilleri, Aadin Church, Saccha Dennis, Teresa Holierhoek, Rob James, Jivaro Smith
Stage West, Mississauga
November 24, 2011 to February 5, 2012
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Golden Oldies from Motown Gold
Anyone who grew up in Southwestern Ontario in the sixties and seventies listened to one radio station: CKLW, The Big 8, in Windsor. And although it was a Canadian station, it served the Detroit market first – commercials were all Detroit car dealers, and the news was about the violence in Detroit (its name had become Murder City instead of Motor City), and yet, we Canadian kids listened loyally. This was in the years before the Canadian content laws on radio, and CKLW did not have a beaver pile of Canadian 45s. And so, we heard mostly Motown: We knew every Supremes hit.
So for me, going to see Motown Gold at Stage West in Mississauga was a big nostalgia trip. A total of 64 songs takes the audience down memory lane. A cast of 10 amazing singers (six men, four women) perform all the great Motown hits and provide brief history lessons between songs. We hear about Berry Gordy who started Tamla Records in the fifties, and had his team of writers and talented singers in a ramshackle house called Hitsville USA, The Motor City Sound – which of course, morphed into Motown. Early singers were Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.
The hits continue with The Temptations, The Four Tops and The Supremes. Every song is familiar: My Girl, Baby Love, Get Ready, You Can’t Hurry Love, I Hear a Symphony, I’ll Be There, Stop in the Name of Love, and the big hit I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.
Act II opens with The Jackson 5, and a neat story with a Canadian connection. It was a soul group called Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, from yes, you guessed it, Vancouver, that first heard The Jackson 5. Taylor had signed with Motown Records, and introduced the Jacksons to Berry Gordy in 1969. From the Jackson 5, the show moves on to Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Commodores & Lionel Ritchie, Motown Disco, New Motown and the big finale, Stevie Wonder, followed by a powerful rendition of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
All 10 cast members are strong with rich, powerful voices. In particular, I enjoyed seeing Karen Andrew and Andrew Broderick perform again – they both appeared in Hairspray in Grand Bend and St. Jacobs earlier this year. Andrew is incredible as a young Michael Jackson, complete with an oversized Afro and a suede vest with long fringe. He has boyish charm singing I Want You Back and ABC. Karen is an amazing dancer, and together with Saccha Dennis, performs the emotional show-stopper Midnight Train to Georgia.
This show is pure entertainment offering up a full encyclopedia of Motown music and fun facts. Take time to enjoy the buffet dinner theatre, and book a suite at Stage West: it’s a great mini vacation.
Motown Gold continues in dinner theatre at Stage West, Mississauga until February 5. For tickets, including nightly dinner or Sunday brunch, and hotel room packages, contact 1-800-263-0684 or www.stagewest.com