Illustration by mjury/ For South Florida Times
FORT LAUDERDALE — The story of Hitsville USA and the man who made the Motown sound possible is coming to South Florida for a two-week run.
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown the Musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more.
The curtain raises Tuesday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, March 8, at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave. Tickets start at $34.75.
Featuring more than 40 classic hits such as My Girl and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Motown the Musical tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat.
Clifton Oliver and Allison Semmes will star in the leading roles of Berry Gordy and Diana Ross. Semmes and castmate Jarran Muse, who portrays Marvin Gaye, paused during the show in Boston to answer a few questions for South Florida Times.
SFL Times: Since taking this role, what have you learned about Hitsville/Motown that you didn’t previously know?
Semmes: I knew about the artists of Motown and the classic repertoire but I had no idea about what the company went thru, like the formation, the social change it created and all the challenges the company faced while it produced all of the hits, we know and love.
SFL Times: How did you prepare for your role?
Semmes: I haven’t met Diana Ross yet unfortunately. She came to the Motown opening on Broadway but I wasn’t in the show yet.
SFL Times: What is your favorite scene, and why?
Semmes: I love Reach Out and Touch because it’s the one scene that portrays a live show! I love connecting with the audiences and bringing up volunteers. You never know who will come up and sing!
Muse: After reading all the books and other written material on Marvin, and talking one on one with Mr. Gordy, I turned to YouTube to pull up rare interviews and performances.
SFL Times: If you could describe this musical In one word, what would it be?
SFL Times: What do you think is so special about the sound of Motown, that makes it live on years later?
Muse: The music is timeless, and just makes you feel good, and groove to the beat.
SFL Times: What is your favorite song/number in the show?
Muse: What’s Going On
Other cast members include Jesse Nager as Smokey Robinson; Patrice Covington as Martha Reeves; and Leon Outlaw Jr. and Reed L. Shannon, who portray Berry Gordy’s boyhood counterpart and the roles of young stars Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
For tickets, visit www.browardcenter.org or call (800) 745-3000.