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Broadway and Turkey Day

Published November 25th, 2014 by | No Comments

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Animated and ready for the day, Tom Turkey leads the floats down Broadway.

For 88 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become as much a part of Thanksgiving as eating turkey! Not only is this an annual holiday tradition for many, but since 1977 the parade has been incorporating one of our most favorite things: BROADWAY! For going on four decades, the television broadcasts of the parade have cast a huge spotlight on the Great White Way in a GREAT BIG WAY!

And the lineup of shows for this year’s parade will certainly not disappoint when the Tony® Award-winning Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Finding Neverland, The Last Ship, On the Town, Honeymoon in Vegas, and Side Show all make their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debuts. Not to mention a performance from the highly anticipated television event Peter Pan: Live, starring the beautiful Allison Williams and (not as beautiful) Christopher Walken.

Blog-GentlemansGuideIf the shows aren’t enough to get you excited, then how about performances from Idina Menzel (Wicked, Disney’s Frozen); Quvenzhané Wallis from  next month’s big-screen remake of Annie; and Les Misérables alum, actor/singer Nick Jonas. Other artists en route to Macy’s Herald Square include The Sing Off champs Pentatonix; rock legends KISS; and Meghan Trainor. Plus, word has it that Taylor Swift is also set to perform!

Blog-ElfBalloonWith all of these fabulous musical performers, don’t forget to keep an eye out for other amazing parade attractions like the Elf on the Shelf balloon and the Sesame Street float. Central Park West may not be the yellow brick road, but balloons of Dorothy and her friends will be floating along to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

Follow the action online with #MacysParade or download the official Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade App to receive updated parade news and design your own balloon! So, if it’s not already, make the parade part of your holiday traditions this year. You won’t want to miss out on all the fun.

This week in theater news…

Published November 21st, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week…

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!


Happening on Broadway…

Kristin Chenoweth’s Coming Home set to air on PBS
In her first television special, Kristin Chenoweth performs in front of her neighbors, family and friends at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in her hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The set list doesn’t just include songs from her musical career, but touches on all of her musical interests. Don’t miss out on this emotional performance, airing on PBS November 28, as well as CD and DVD. (officialkristinchenoweth.com) Read more

Mike Nichols’ impact on Broadway
On November 19, Broadway lost legendary director Mike Nichols at the age of 83. Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Nixon and Robert Redford – just to name a few – all attribute part of their successful careers to Nichols’ support. Take a look at some of the other celebrities who had a strong connection to Nichols. (broadway.com) Read more

“Backstage with Disney on Broadway” will air on ABC
Disney is marking 20 years on Broadway, and to celebrate will air a one-hour special, “Backstage with Disney on Broadway.” The show will take viewers behind-the-scenes of shows like Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King showcasing the creation and production of the shows. (playbill.com) Read more

Upcoming events at PlayhouseSquare

Free Comedy Happy Hour
The Three Sisters
 
Tony Bennett
Mike Epps
The Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker

This week in theater news…

Published November 7th, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week…

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!

Happening on Broadway…

New Into the Woods Trailer
Just one day after the 27th anniversary of the original Broadway production of Into the Woods opened, a new trailer for the film adaptation has been released. With a stellar cast including Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Lilla Crawford (from Broadway’s Annie) and more. We’re ready to head into the woods and to the movie theater when it opens on December 25th(broadway.com) Read more

Pippin Sets Closing Date
The Tony-winning revival of the hit musical Pippin has officially set to give up its corner of the sky on Broadway on January 4, 2014. The production, which opened on April 25, 2013 will have played 709 regular performances by that date. (broadway.com) Read more

88th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Broadway Performances
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is known for highlighting some of Broadway’s best performances, and the lineup this year is no exception. The casts of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, The Last Ship, On the Town, Side Show, and the Radio City Rockettes are all on tap to perform. There will also be a sneak peak of NBC’s Peter Pan Live! (broadway.com) Read more

Fiddler on the Roof Cast is Coming Together
Danny Burstein will play the role of Tevye in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof. Burstein received a fifth Tony nomination for his role as Herr Schultz in Cabaret. Performances for Fiddler on the Roof are set to begin on November 17, 2015. (broadway.com) Read more

Upcoming events at PlayhouseSquare

Disney’s Newsies
Jump Back Ball 24 Ticket Kickoff Party
Ryan Adams
Last Comic Standing
Melissa Etheridge

An Interview with Jess Goldstein from Disney’s Newsies

Published November 3rd, 2014 by | No Comments

Our Buzz Extra writer, Alicia Hansen had the exciting opportunity to interview Jess Goldstein, the costume designer for our upcoming Broadway Series show Newsies. As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Alicia will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.

An Interview with Jess Goldstein from Newsies
by Alicia Hansen

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Jess Goldstein formally started his journey as a costumer designer in college, but was influenced by the stage at an early age.  As a child, he grew up seeing the Broadway musicals in their heyday of the 1960s, yet knew he didn’t want to be a performer. With a talent in the visual arts, he started as an art major as an undergraduate at Boston University. Once he discovered the theater department had a design major, Jess changed his major and never looked back. After completing the graduate program at the Yale School of Drama, he moved to New York City in 1978, and since has had a vibrant career designing professionally for more than 35 years.  In this interview, Mr. Goldstein gives us a glimpse into bringing alive the next offering the 2014-2015 KeyBank Broadway Series, Disney’s Newsies.

When you were brought on to bring this movie musical to life on the stage, what were the first steps in your planning process?

Jess Goldstein - Photo Credit Alan Barnett

Jess Goldstein

Since I’m a bit older than most Newsies movie fans, I had never seen the movie before. It kind of went over my head because I was too old for it!  Once I did watch it, I saw all the possibilities in doing it as a stage show. It was nice to see what the movie provided, then go ahead, run with it and do my own version.

Newsies’ scenic design is an abstracted industrial view of New York City at the turn of the century. With that design choice, Jeff Calhoon (the director) and I felt that the costumes had to be the one element that brought some reality of the period to the visuals. The costumes would be something that would anchor the show and represent the period of the city.

From there, I was able to do a lot of research. It’s a period I’ve worked in a lot over the years because there are so many classic plays that were written at the turn of the century. As the story is actually based on a real event – the News Boys Strike of 1899 – there were many photos of boys working in factories and hawking the newspapers out on the streets of New York City. Then there are characters like Teddy Roosevelt and Joseph Pulitzer who were real people, so I studied specific images of them.  It’s a quite fascinating, rich period to research.

With all of that, I wanted to heighten the look for the stage. I started with the original material and worked in terms of controlling the color palette and the fit of the clothes. It’s all a little bit prettier than what the real period actually was.

In knowing this show won the Tony Award for Best Choreography, the performers have to be ready to move comfortably while in period costumes. What did you have to keep in mind when designing these costumes?

Not only do the actors have to move in it, they have to be able to do all this extraordinary choreography that is extremely athletic. The clothes have to have a certain kind of fit that allows them to do these leaps, high kicks, splits and things that the real historic clothes were not designed to do at all.  In the fittings, we make them do their kicks in the fitting room to make sure they are not inhibited by the clothing in order to do the choreography. It’s really just a matter of choosing the kinds of fabrics that have a little bit of give to them even though they don’t look like it. Many of them have a little bit of stretch in them – like 1% of Lycra in the wool – that allows them to move with ease.

From there, the actors are fit in the costumes within an inch of their lives. You discover that when designing musicals, the clothes need to be able to move and have to be close to the body — much like a leotard, but of course not look like a leotard. But that fit of that period – wearing those knickers and the trousers up on their waists — is not what kids do these days! I was a little concerned the boys playing the newsies were not going to “get” it.  But when we started fitting the clothes, the actors all would get into the costumes – into the vests, in the knickers and the caps – and they all really loved the look of it. It made them all very happy to be dressed appropriately. I feel the boys respect the fact that they are being dressed appropriately and still are able to do what they need to do in the clothes.

Was there any one character you especially enjoyed crafting a costume for in this production?

One of the fun characters for me to design was certainly Medda Larkin, the African American performer who owns the Vaudeville house where Jack (our lead newsie) paints scenery and hangs out. Even though I couldn’t find very specific photos of that time of that kind of a vaudeville house, there’s a lot of material out there of the Ziegfeld Girls and vaudeville clowns from the period to be inspired from.

Medda’s costumes and the costumes for the Bowery Beauties are certainly some of the most colorful and certainty most theatrical of the show. So much of the show is in earth tones and industrial colors – browns and greys mostly. Medda and her girls are very much in their own color palette. Medda is in this vivid hot pink Victorian gown and the girls that back her up are in periwinkle showgirl costumes with accents of pink and lavender. Medda also wears a dressing gown in a teal, turquoise silk, and then later in the show, a beautiful Edwardian walking suit. She also has these extraordinary hats that are enormous!

As this show moves from being on Broadway to on tour, are there adjustments need to be considered to ensure the costumes survive being on the road?

Nothing changes in terms of the design itself – at least it shouldn’t. Audiences across America should be seeing the show and the costumes designed for Broadway.  A whole new set of costumes for this tour were constructed for this new cast, but it is all very much about keeping the original designs consistent. So in the best situation, nothing changes.

The up-keep is immense because there is a lot of wear and tear on the costumes. Obviously everything is laundered and cleaned quite often. The parts of the costumes that are worn close to the body – the boys’ shirts, their Henleys, etc. – those are all bought in triplicate or more so they are able to change them quite often. In the up-keep, there’s a lot of work to do, but it’s all about keeping the look and keeping it the same – not only when we started the tour, but when we opened on Broadway.

Something people probably don’t realize is that when a show tours, the wardrobe supervisor who is in charge of keeping this look consistent is the only one who tours with the show. Each city has a brand new crew of dressers who have to learn the show overnight. They have to learn where the quick changes are in the show and what has to happen in each. There is a lot to learn overnight! And then the show moves on to a new city and the wardrobe supervisor teaches all those quick changes to a new crew in each city. That alone is a huge undertaking!

What makes this show stand out to you from the others you’ve worked on over the years?

There’s just nothing like a new Broadway musical.  Even though we originally produced it at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey with no intention of moving it to Broadway, I always kind of knew that it would end up there.

From the very first rehearsal, there was just so much joy in the room from everybody involved. Thomas Schumacher (president of the Disney Theatrical Group) was such an inspiration, but also was Jeff Calhoun (director), Christopher Gattelli (choreographer) Harvey Fierstein and Alan Menken (who wrote the book and music), and of course the cast members. You don’t always have that on a show where there’s just a family atmosphere amongst the cast and the crew. That happened very quickly on Newsies.

You could tell from that first rehearsal that it was going to be something special. Broadway musicals are like that – there’s an energy you don’t quite see in a play – and I’ve done a lot of wonderful plays!  But there’s an energy that needs to be summoned every single night to do those numbers that is unbeatable. The energy has to be there in order to work. Newsies never disappointed. This show never let up its energy and its warmth.

Disney’s Newsies comes to Cleveland November 4 – 16 as part of the KeyBank Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the PlayhouseSquare website.

Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is an events and marketing professional, a yoga teacher and proud Cleveland arts supporter. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

This week in theater news…

Published October 31st, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week…

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!


Happening on Broadway …

New song written for Newsies tour
Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman have written a new song for the Newsies national tour. The song, “Letter from the Refuge,” will be performed by Crutchie and is set in the second act as he writes a letter to Jack Kelly after being sent to a detention center. Catch the show opening next week in Cleveland! (broadway.com) Read More

Winner of The Voice debuts as Broadway’s Pippin
After winning the sixth season of NBC’s The Voice, Josh Kaufman finds himself in the role of Pippin on Broadway’s musical, Pippin. Having been coached by Grammy winner Usher, Kaufman will play limited engagement through January 4, 2015. Get ready for Pippin in Cleveland in February, 2015! (broadway.com) Read More

Daniel Radcliffe raps on Jimmy Fallon
Harry Potter and Broadway’s Inishmaan star, Daniel Radcliffe, performed a rap on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon - and rumor has it he wasn’t bad! (hollywoodreporter.com) Read More

Upcoming Events at PlayhouseSquare

Disney’s Newsies
The Dybbuk
Alton Brown Live
Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company – Dance Cleveland
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Halloween Costumes to Steal the Show

Published October 22nd, 2014 by | No Comments

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We know you’re busy decorating your house, carving pumpkins and making sure you have enough candy for trick-or-treaters, so to help you out this Halloween we’ve put together some costumes ideas – inspired by Broadway of course – to help you steal the spotlight this year!

Our next Broadway series show, Newsies, has taken the stage by storm! These costumes are simple to recreate, so you’re quickly on your way to dancing the night away. Start with gray pants, add suspenders, layer on a vest with a plaid or striped shirt – and don’t forget to top it off with a Newsies hat! Want to make your look more authentic? Add some dirt – that should do the trick.

Speaking of upcoming shows, there are quite a few ideas that you can pull from Pippin. Whether you’re into the colorful circus costumes, or looking to stick to the basics, it’s easy to find inspiration from this musical!

Nothing could be simpler than black pants and a white shirt with a black tie. Have those items lying around in your closet? Pull them out, add a name tag, and you have a costume from The Book of Mormon.

So if these first few ideas haven’t gotten you inspired, don’t worry because we’re not done yet! Maybe you want something that’s a little bit more flashy for your costume this year. If that’s the case, start your search for a fabulous pair of shoes with inspiration from Kinky Boots!

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We love the 80s just as much as we love couples costumes, and Dirty Dancing is perfect for both. Keep it simple or dress it up, you decide!

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Looking for some ideas for your little prince and princess? Beauty and the Beast and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella are both coming to CLE this year and we couldn’t be more excited! Plus – dressing as these characters for Halloween is the perfect way to feel royal for a day!

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These are just a few of our ideas, and with Broadway we feel like we can come up with an endless list of ideas! Click here to see our Pinterest board for more Halloween ideas!

 

Motown Rocks Its Way to the Hall of Fame

Published October 18th, 2014 by | No Comments

In 1986 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomed its first class of inductees, and in 1995 the museum opened its doors right here in Cleveland! Did you know that nearly every Motown artist in Motown The Musical has been inducted into the Rock Hall? Let’s take a look at all of the Motown stars who have been inducted, and those who have been nominated this year.

The second year of Rock Hall inductions, in 1987, celebrated the works of both Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. Both were inducted under the performer category. Growing up, Marvin Gaye had dreams of becoming the “black Frank Sinatra,” and Smokey Robinson’s work as a solo artist was highly successful. Robinson was later inducted again in 2012 as a member of The Miracles – him and Michael Jackson being two of the few artists to be inducted multiple times.

Both Motown founder Berry Gordy and music superstar Diana Ross were inducted into the Rock Hall in 1988. Ross has yet to be individually inducted, but was inducted with her band The Supremes alongside Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. Gordy, having transformed an in-house music studio into “Hitsville U.S.A.,” attended the 2012 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and spoke about his personal experiences with Motown.

In 1989, the hit Motown band The Temptations and singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder were inducted into the Rock Hall. Stevie Wonder had reached the top of the pop and R&B charts at the mere age of 12, and throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s he continued writing and producing hit songs. You can watch Stevie Wonder and John Legend perform at the 2010 Rock Hall 25th Anniversary Show below.

Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, both in 1997 with The Jackson 5 and in 2001 as a solo artist.

Motown artists continue to be nominated for inductions into the Rock Hall. The Marvelettes have been nominated for the 2015 induction. The group had hits written by stars like Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, but perhaps their most famous song was “Please Mr. Postman.”

The annual induction ceremony has become a highly anticipated tradition, and the 20th anniversary of the museum is quickly approaching. Catch the 2015 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony taking place in Cleveland and cast your vote for The Marvelettes in the fan vote contest here!

 

This week in theater news…

Published October 17th, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week of October 20-26, 2014

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!


Happening on Broadway …

Ryan Adams covers Bryan Adams
In a recent performance in Santa Barbara, California, Ryan Adams covered the famed Bryan Adams hit, Run To You. Did you know both Bryan Adams and Ryan Adams will be performing in CLE? (people.com) Read More

Idina Menzel’s new holiday album
Idina Menzel has released her newest holiday album, “Holiday Wishes.” The album features songs like, All I Want for Christmas Is You, and a duet version of Baby It’s Cold Outside with Michael Buble. (cbsnews.com) Read More

Disney in talks with directors for Frozen theater adaptation 
Now that Frozen has a growing fan base and huge popularity, Disney has begun talking with directors for a Broadway adaptation of the show. It is noted that a design concept is also already in the works. (broadwaynews.com) Read More

Upcoming Events at PlayhouseSquare

Cleveland Orchestra Jazz Discovery Series led by Chris Anderson – FREE
Evil Dead The Musical
Fall for the Arts
How We Got On
Class by the Glass

 

This week in theater news…

Published October 10th, 2014 by | No Comments

Theater news for the week of September 15-21, 2014

Each week, we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway news and stories. Check back every Friday to see what you missed this week and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at PlayhouseSquare this weekend. Enjoy!


Happening on Broadway …

First trailer of Broadway’s Of Mice and Men released
The first trailer of the Broadway production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men has been released. With stars like James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton, screening dates of the highly anticipated film are expected to be released soon. (broadway.com) Read More

Lucie Arnaz on Broadway with Pippin
Emmy-winning singer and actress Lucie Arnaz joins the NYC cast of Pippin and will play the role of Berthe. Arnaz began her career in show business on the television show The Lucy Show and continued on stage and behind the camera. (broadway.com) Read More

Cyndi Lauper talks success with Kinky Boots
Cyndi Lauper had a conversation with The Huffington Post about the success of Kinky Boots, for which she wrote music and lyrics. With its positive reviews and push to celebrate individuality, Lauper tells of her songwriting experience for the musical. (huffingtonpost.comRead More

Cinderella national tour
October 10, 2014 will be the launch date of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, opening at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, RI. A theater adaptation which takes on classic story components along with a few twists, but incorporates music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Catch Cinderella in CLE from July 21-August 2! (playbill.com) Read More


Upcoming Events at PlayhouseSquare

Master Class with Motown the Musical - Free
A Conversation with Diane Rehm
Discover DaVinci & Michelangelo: Side by Side
Halloween Town
Chris Tucker

 

An Interview with Jarran Muse from Motown the Musical

Published October 3rd, 2014 by | No Comments

Please give a warm welcome to our newest PlayhouseSquare Blog contributor, Alicia Hansen. As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Alicia will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.

An Interview with Jarran Muse from Motown the Musical
by Alicia Hansen

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As a child growing up in New Jersey, Jarran Muse found himself drawn to television shows featuring kids and knew then he wanted to be an actor. With his theater education starting early through community programs, studying at a performing arts high school, and later with a scholarship to the University of the Arts, Jarran worked hard to be the teacher professional he is today. In this interview, Muse shares his insight in playing one of America’s most prolific musical artists in Motown the Musical.

Jarran Muse

Jarran Muse

You perform the role of Marvin Gaye in the production of Motown the Musical coming to PlayhouseSquare this October.  What was your process in preparing for the role of such an iconic individual in our musical history?

Preparing was a process, but it was a great process. Marvin Gaye is one of my all time idols. I wasn’t around on earth to hear him perform live, but Mr. Berry Gordy being a part of our project – from originally writing his book, “To Be Loved,” to creating the show, to being with us in the process – was a huge help.

Mr. Gordy and I had several one-on-one talks where he would tell me about the conversations he would have with Marvin and the type of person he was.  Mr. Gordy had a very strong relationship with Marvin because he was his brother-in-law, so he knew him well.  He would explain to me why Marvin was his favorite artist because he was so true and anything he was thinking is what he recorded.  If you really want to know Marvin Gaye, you listen to one of his albums. That was him.

In our generation, we have this wonderful thing called YouTube where you can research so many different interviews, concerts and live appearances. Mr. Gordy even had rare footage that I was able to see so I could really capture the essence of his performance and how he spoke – both on camera and off camera. Getting to watch those, as well as reading his biography and talking with his family, friends and colleagues – there’s a lot of information on Marvin.

You mention YouTube and being able to watch those videos and to see his emotions and expressions. Do you find that any type of challenge in terms of performing his songs as him? Do you stick to the artistic choices that he made or do you have that opportunity to make any creative moments in yourself?

People are coming to see Marvin Gaye so it gets a little tricky. You definitely have to bring yourself to the character, but we all know that Marvin was a legend. I try as hard as I can to bring Marvin back, so I do try to have to bring “Marvin” to the stage, and not “Jarran.” I definitely have similarities to Marvin so some of it came naturally. I apparently sound like him in my normal voice, so that wasn’t hard.

As the musical is based on the story of Berry Gordy’s founding and running of the Motown record label and his relationships with those Motown artists, is there a  story of Mr. Gordy’s that sticks out to you that helped to craft your choices in playing Marvin?

There’s a story about the song “Mercy Mercy Me.”  Mr. Gordy did not want to release that song. He had a specific image for his artists in mind and he wanted to keep that image for the Motown label as a whole. He didn’t like political records or drug records – he was very much against that song.  Marvin pleaded with Mr. Gordy to release that album. He finally convinced him by singing “Mercy Mercy Me” to him. That’s how he was able to change his mind.

This was just one of many examples of how Marvin and Mr. Gordy butted heads constantly. It was like a father-son relationship, even though it technically wasn’t. In the scenes where Mr. Gordy is with Marvin, those scenes are confrontational because Marvin wanted to be as different as possible. He didn’t care unless he got his own way. He was a stubborn kind of fella – just like that song.

There are more than 50 Motown hits in this production. Did you find those songs influence you – if so, how?

Absolutely! The more we built the show and I would hear which songs were being used, I was instantly brought back to the time I first heard them. When I was younger, I didn’t really “hear” the lyrics. I heard the music, but I wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying. Listening to the words in the rehearsal process and to see what is still happening in our times that we’re living in today, it made me realize a lot of the music and these artists were ahead of their time. A lot of what they were saying still holds true today, especially with Marvin. Marvin’s lyrics – they hold so much weight. With everything that is going on with the race riots in Missouri and what happened down in Florida, and different other situations that are going on across the country, I mean, what’s going on? Mercy mercy me! His lyrics today hold as much weight as they did in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Is there a Motown song you wish was in the show, or do you feel the music selected really encompasses what Motown was all about?

The songs they selected are spot on. I also know there wasn’t enough room for everything they hoped to include. When you have a catalog like Motown that spans 30 years and you try to squeeze all of that into 2 hours and 45 minutes – it’s impossible to include everything. I actually congratulate them for choosing the songs that they were able to fit into the show!  When we ran the first previews of Motown the Musical, it was 3 hours and 15 minutes long. The first workshop was a 4-hour process.  You have to remember:  as an audience member, you don’t want to sit in a theater for four hours!

What makes Motown the Musical special, different or unique in comparison to other musicals?

This is the first show that I’ve worked on that is based on a true story. Me being not only an American, but a minority – an African American – and getting to know the history of how these artists really paved the way for all the other artists that came after them – that’s special. The icing on the cake was when we opened the show on Broadway, anyone who was ever involved with the record label that was still alive was invited to attend the opening night performance. All the artists, the family members, the sales reps, the distributors were flown into New York. They cried, they laughed and they remembered it all as they watched the show. We had a reception afterwards and they shared even more stories – all of those we couldn’t tell on stage because of time constraints. To hear from them and their perspective – all through laughs, smiles and tears – that’s special!

Motown the Musical comes to Cleveland October 3 – 19 as part of the KeyBank Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the PlayhouseSquare website.

Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin Wallace University’s theatre program, Alicia is an events and marketing professional, a yoga teacher and proud Cleveland arts supporter. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

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