Motown: The Musical
Closed 2h 40m
Motown: The Musical
85

Motown: The Musical NYC Reviews and Tickets

85%
(512 Reviews)
Positive
92%
Mixed
5%
Negative
3%
Members say
Entertaining, Great singing, Delightful, Must see, Great staging

About the Show

This Broadway musical tells the story behind some of Motown's most famous songs, featuring Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and the Temptations. Now returning for a limited 18-week engagement.

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Member Reviews (512)

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70
Cliched, Banal, Dated, Stale, Great singing

See it if I knew what it was going in, yet I expected better. Great music of course, but the plot was so thin, the chemistry so lacking - a big meh.

Don't see it if You want a story with substance or a dynamic production; this felt tired & shopworn.

67
Indulgent, Great singing, Overrated, Entertaining

See it if you love the music of Motown

Don't see it if you dislike jukebox musicals Read more

Critic Reviews (23)

The New York Times
July 21st, 2016

“Under Charles Randolph-Wright’s direction, it remains what it was: a sparkling and enjoyable, if lumpy, journey through 25 years of Motown history...The central roles have been recast, with excellent singing actors who are mostly equal to the fine originals…‘Motown’ has so much story to tell that there’s no time for dramatic subtlety or complexity of character. But who’s coming to see 'Motown' for anything other than the fabulous songbook?”
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The Hollywood Reporter
July 21st, 2016

"The musical's chief problem remains the clunky, self-serving book by Gordy himself...You can feel the audience's delight as one hit song after another is presented...Director Randolph-Wright keeps things flowing seamlessly, with the musical numbers and dramatic scenes blending into one another at a rapid enough pace to keep boredom from settling in...Still, it's hard not to see the entire enterprise as a glorified tribute show.”
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AM New York
July 24th, 2016

"The storytelling has a passive, paint-by-numbers quality, but you can’t deny the pure entertainment value of Charles Randolph-Wright’s large-scale, movement-intensive production and a score comprised of hit after hit after hit after hit...This unfocused, unwieldy overload works both to the show’s benefit and detriment. The nostalgic fun never stops, but 'Motown' never slows down to give its characters more than a purely superficial treatment."
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Theatermania
July 21st, 2016

“It's a dizzying experience that feels like a good nostalgia concert at best, a work of self-serving propaganda at worst...The awesome score should be enough to make us forgive Gordy for his revisionist history, but the truncated and adrenaline-infused musical numbers too often leave us feeling hollow and bewildered...If you can ignore the cringe-inducing book scenes, you will probably have a good time.”
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BroadwayWorld
July 22nd, 2016

"It's a highly dramatic story that not only sings, but comes with its own collection of sensational songs...But the end result not only speaks for the fact that Gordy has never written a musical before, the clunky dialogue and the static storytelling makes one seriously wonder if he's ever seen one...Bio-musicals 'Beautiful' and 'On Your Feet!' display far more literary sophistication...But if the book disappoints, the dynamic company is well worth catching."
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Talkin' Broadway
July 22nd, 2016

"It plays as an entirely different, and noticeably less compelling, show than the original version that ran on Broadway...This is not to say I was an enormous fan of that incarnation—I wasn't—but it had a size, energy, and (relative) intensity that this one lacks...It's imparted a jagged choppiness that keeps the evening from cohering...Only the choreography lives up to expectations. Well, that and the music— hits far too numerous to list, even if many of them appear as only fragments. "
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Front Row Center
July 22nd, 2016

"The show is high octane from beginning to end and we’re along for the ride every step of the way…This conceit gives Gordy more than enough opportunity to present us with the incredible acts he shepherded to stardom, while showcasing a roster of today’s talent that is every bit as soul stirring as the originals they’re portraying. Every single person in the cast was excellent…You’d have to be a curmudgeon of the highest order not to enjoy this show."
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New York Theater
July 21st, 2016

“Most everything about this production is more….efficient….than the original one on Broadway. The cast has been reduced in size; sets have been simplified; scenes have been trimmed or excised...Unfortunately, the efficiency seems to extend to the performances as well...The cast members make all the right moves, their voices are in fine form, but there surely needs to be some extra, indefinable spark to stand out...Maybe they’ve just been on the road too long.”
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C
July 22nd, 2016

"Led by the ultradynamic Chester Gregory, this slightly revised version seems to have more energy and bonhomie than before. Yes, the show is still a bit self-serving and the book is riddled with ridiculous omissions, chronological mistakes, and clichéd dialogue that can make you cringe. But if you love the songs that came from this legendary record label, it’s all ultimately a bit hard to resist...You can shop around for a 'better' show, but not many at which you’ll have more fun!"
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WNBC
July 22nd, 2016

"The newest incarnation of ‘Motown’ is tighter with lines cut, sets scaled back and more reliance on projection video. It’s also -- and this is me talking now -- more endearing…The new cast is noticeably at ease with the material...Chester Gregory, as the central figure, is driven and insistent…Effective, as well, is Jarran Muse as a soulful Marvin Gaye...What we have here is an improved and infectious excuse to revisit dozens of Motor City chestnuts."
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The Associated Press
July 21st, 2016

“The revival is alternately catchy and soulful, and overstuffed with memorable melodies...Gordy’s book sometimes awkwardly juxtaposes tragedy with personal moments...The hardworking ensemble of 33 take multiple roles and dance their feet off...Pulsating choreography evolves with the changing times...If Gordy is a little grandiose about his accomplishments, well, he’s telling the story and there’s no denying the enormous contribution he made to American music.”
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NY Theatre Guide
July 21st, 2016

"The cast is close to ideal, and the music and lyrics work. The book attempts too much and, in places, tries to tell a fifteen-month story in fifteen seconds. As a result, some of the dialogue reads like narration, and if the acting is stilted in these places...So what? Who goes to a musical called 'Motown' to worry about the playwright’s craft? You’re there for the music, and the show delivers that many times over...The singing is on target and so passionate."
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Real Mr.Housewife
July 28th, 2016

"Among the best things I’ve ever seen on a stage…Along the way we get top-notch performances of some of our favorite Motown songs…The revival was flawless. There wasn’t one member of the cast who couldn’t sing and didn’t give their all to their role...I felt like the story of 'Motown' is more relevant than ever…While a ticket to a Broadway show can be expensive, I urge you to go see 'Motown' during its limited engagement revival. You will not be disappointed."
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The New York Times
April 14th, 2013
For a previous production

"For all the richness of its gold-and-platinum-plated soundtrack, 'Motown' would be a much more satisfying nostalgia trip if Gordy and his collaborators were more effective curators of both story and song, rather than trying to encompass the whole of the label’s fabled history in two and a half hours. Irresistible as much of the music is, I often had the frustrating impression that I was being forced to listen to an LP being played at the dizzying, distorting speed of a 45."
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BroadwayWorld
June 22nd, 2016
For a previous production

"'Motown the Musical' is a solid gold hit...The staggering amount of talent, creativity and love that was the Motown Sound and the story behind its founder Berry Gordy will touch your heart and put the beat back in your feet...Having the through line of racism and Motown's role in affecting change through music was really touching...This theme grounded the show and made it more than just a story."
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London Theatre
March 9th, 2016
For a previous production

"It is mostly standard-issue hagiography...But all doubts dissipate as those songs keep coming at us. And Randolph-Wright's slick, sleek production, with exhilarating choreography of non-stop movement and an amazing band, makes the music come alive in sound, motion and emotion. 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours' is one of them; and I felt that the same about the show by the time it reached its uproarious finale...It is thrilling to see so much exceptional talent on one stage."
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The Guardian (UK)
March 8th, 2016
For a previous production

"Eager as I am as the next person to learn more about the Motown mogul, I was disappointed at how little I discovered. The appeal of this all-too-typical modern musical lies in the capacity of the 50 numbers. The musical’s book is a shaky vehicle largely designed to facilitate the songs...It’s a fascinating rags-to-riches story but this version leaves all the key questions unanswered...The music, of course, is what people will go for and it is put across with great pizzazz."
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The Telegraph (UK)
May 22nd, 2016
For a previous production

"The book is the evening’s weak spot. The dialogue is sometimes so bald it could use an emergency toupet...Bolstered by ingenious, fast-moving, projection-enlivened scenery, expert choreography and sure direction, the cast have a platinum-plated ball...Confronting us with energy and spirit of that irrepressible order, the show moves beyond being a welcome nostalgia fest and becomes an urgent rallying cry for us all to rediscover our Motown mojo."
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The Independent (UK)
March 9th, 2016
For a previous production

"There’s rich dramatic potential in the Detroit label’s history. Instead, we get a squished potted-history using Gordy’s own dismal, stiff dialogue...Still, the band is tight, the top notes hit, the large ensemble have buckets of sass and groove, and audiences inevitably approach these much-loved songs with a sizeable portion goodwill...But 'Motown, the Musical' shines far less brightly, lacking smarts as well as soul."
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Express UK
March 11th, 2016
For a previous production

"Squeezing the well-known hits into one show proves hard especially when there is a story to tell and the first half suffers from medley-itis at times. But then the changes in the social and political climate are sketched in including Martin Luther King, the Ku Klux Klan and the protests against the Vietnam War so the songs take on a greater weight and are given more room to breathe."
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San Jose Mercury News
June 22nd, 2016
For a previous production

"The irresistible Motown catalog is the real star here. But after a while you begin to crave a little more connective tissue between the golden oldies...Still the performers are joyous and bright, winning us over with their sense of fun and exuberance...To be fair, if what you really want is a high-voltage blast from R&B's past, this musical will satisfy you. The sketchy book can't dim the propulsive power of the songs. Ain't no mountain high enough for that."
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S
June 28th, 2016
For a previous production

"Over 50 tunes are housed in an airbrushed, hackneyed history of Motown that pales next to the ecstatic force of the music...The 'Motown' dialogue is littered with trite, clunky lines...But as whirlwind news images whisk us through the turbulent 1960s, 'Motown’s success is wisely placed in a cultural-political context of emerging black pride and civil-rights activism...Yet it’s the soulful, snappy, slickly staged music numbers that sell the show."
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A Younger Theatre
March 12th, 2016
For a previous production

"It is true that ‘jukebox’ musicals like this usually lack a deep and meaningful story, and this is no exception...However, this show is all about the songs. About 50 of them are performed throughout the show, although not all of them receive the full treatment...Quite frankly, who cares if the story is a little too simple? 'Motown The Musical' is two and a half hours of musical happiness, and I had an absolute blast."
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