There Ain't No Town Like Motown!

The Magic Of Motown

Theatre Severn

21/April/2016

 

The Reach Out Tour, seems an appropriate name for this incredibly talented cast and their fully charged Motown spectacular. They reached out to a packed theatre and the audience reached right back, consequently the music flowed to an extremely receptive and highly excited crowd.

However not an entirely blot- free copy book can bestowed on this show as there were a couple of niggles that need to be inspected and corrected . Firstly the volume was high, not deafening but if the amps. did go all the way to eleven; nine would have been about the right place.

One found that due to the seven singers and the band of four playing wonderfully behind, it was possible that there was maybe too much sound for the size of the venue. But that’s what sound checks are for. It was however an undeniably tricky challenge for the sound guys to spin the plates of the band, the singers, the fold-back and the front of house sound. Somewhere in the middle of all their ranges the happy ground of harmonious harmonies lie. The second half seemed much better in this respect and no one suffered too much the worse for it.

That said, when one is lighting the show from upstage to downstage one needs to be mindful of the light spilling into the eyes of the audience. Yet after almost every song everybody in the auditorium was treated to a free course of laser eye treatment. This was because  lights that would shame a million candles into surrender, burned an impression on one’s  retina that lasted into the next song. Just about 10 degrees tilt could have stopped that.

But hit after hit after hit kept coming and the audience knew and loved everyone.

Everyone knows now about how the Motown story and its roots in the poor area of Detroit, the Motorcity. It is an inspiring rags to riches story. But seeing this show  reminds one what a contribution Tamla Motown made on the music industry. It was a complete self- sustaining hit factory and provided some of the musical names that will last forever and will never be forgotten.

Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Lil Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, Diana Ross and the Supremes are all names that have something to do with everyone’s lives. Each one of them was undoubtebly  well represented in a show that must have taken every last ounce of effort and energy from the busy cast.

But when one talks of Motown the lyrics and music are only two thirds of the picture, the rest is made up of the tightly synchronized dance routines. Although there was a sliding scale of dance ability amongst the cast the lower end of that scale was excellent: as for the top end of the scale you can imagine your own superlatives.  They were very good!

This is a show that the vast majority of the audience would have liked to have gone on all night. It has style, it has flair,  it is beautifully sung  buy a tightly rehearsed cast and they are oh so cool in their moves.

This amazing revolution of music that exploded out of Detroit may never be matched. We may never even come near but if we did. If we were able to invent a whole new genre of music, provide an amazing stable of performers to take this new music to every corner of the world, to provide the writers, to keep the timeless, ageless hits rolling: If we were able to do all that and what we created lived forever, we might get somewhere near what Motown achieved. Somehow I don’t think we ever will!

This is a three star review.

Owen J.Lewis 

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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