Reed Shannon Talks Motown The Musical

Sources: Broadway World | All Things Michael


Actor Reed Shannon is currently on tour with Motown the Musical playing Young  Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. In our chat he talks about preparing for these roles and his young theatre life so far.

Unbelievable! You are playing  Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson when they were young like you. How difficult is it for you to differenciate between the 3 boys? What do you have to do physically and mentally to portray them? Did you watch tapes or listen to CDs to get the voices just right? I know Jackson performed young but I’m not sure about Little  Stevie Wonder.

I have been playing the roles of Little Berry Gordy, Little Stevie Wonder, and Little Michael Jackson since April of 2014, which has been an awesome experience! I watched and still watch YouTube videos about each of these icons. I do not have videos of Mr. Gordy as a child, but I have spent some time with him and have read about him, and he has told me how Stevie and Michael were as kids. For the Stevie role I close my eyes and imagine not being able to see, and really use my sense of hearing every time I perform, and for the Michael Jackson role, I put myself in the mind set of auditioning as a younger child and really trying to show Mr. Gordy that I can perform for the whole world!

Did you know about these people before you became involved in this show? Had you heard Stevie Wonder sing? I’m sure you heard Michael Jackson. Talks about this.

I listened to young and older Michael Jackson before I was cast in Motown, and just a little bit of Stevie Wonder. Since landing the role, I have tried to listen to everything I can that each of them has written and produced! I believe their music has such a great message that if people take it in, it could change the world and help some of the problems in society.

What songs do you perform in Motown?

“Hey Joe (Black Like Me)”, “I Got the Feeling”,”Who’s Loving You”,”The Love You Save”,”ABC”

“I Want You Back”, and “I’ll Be There.”

How old are you? What is your experience onstage before Motown? Be specific!

Fourteen. I was trained to sing, act, and dance at NC Theatre Conservatory and my biggest roles were Gavroche inLes Miserables (regionally), and I was a work house boy in !Oliver, and also I performed as Sonny in In the Heights, and as the Youngest Tommy in The Who’s Tommy. I also had roles at my charter school in Peter Pan, School House Rock, and I was Mr. Bill the Candy Store owner and got to sing Candy Man (like Sammy Davis, Jr.), in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

Which character is the hardest for you to play? Which is the easiest? Why?

Stevie Wonder is the easiest to play, since there are just a few lines, and it is mostly acting, and the Little MJ role is the hardest, because there is so much precision dancing and singing at the same time.

How do you prepare before each show? Do you do something special before you go onstage besides vocal warmup?

I always try to get a 45 minute nap, then drink some tea with honey, get something healthy to eat like a salad, maybe play some jokes on my parents or cast mates, then put some good motivation music in my ears!


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Michael Jackson Dance Program For Special Needs

Sources: MJXExpressions | All Things Michael


Let your kids have an AMAZING time by enrolling them in our exciting Michael Jackson dance classes! Dress like Michael, dance like Michael, perform like Michael! From the Moonwalk to Thriller our students get the ultimate Michael Jackson experience every week in our classes.

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Children’s Ballet Theatre Of Michigan To Present CBT LIVE! With Thriller Finale

Sources: Broadway World | All Things Michael


Lansing, MI — The Children’s Ballet Theatre of Michigan is busy rehearsing an upbeat repertoire show titled CBT LIVE! Creative Director Gregory M. George will transform Holt High School Theatre into an urban street scene complete with a live DJ and laser light show on Friday, May 1st and Saturday, May 2nd at 7:00 p.m. and again Sunday, May 3rd at 2:00 p.m. Audience members should plan to purchase tickets early at

‘We are so excited to present superbly trained, charismatic young dancers in a high voltage evening of spectacular dance,” said Board Chair Michelle Renfrew. “Contemporary Ballet has come of age and it’s more exciting than ever!”

The adventure includes modern songs by Stevie Wonder, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift as well as music by classic artists. The highlight of the show is a special zombie finale to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

‘This explosive show will be a fast-paced romp of nostalgia. Children’s Ballet Theatre has excelled in blending traditional ballet, hip hop, contemporary and acrobatics into an unbelievable evening of entertainment,” said graduating senior Shannon Gebaur. “LIVE! will showcase our company in an array of energetic, athletic ballets that are sure to inspire dancing in the audience.”

CBT is a premiere audition based company comprised of over 60 dancers ages 8-18 who reside throughout Michigan. The LIVE! cast will once again partner with Children’s Miracle Network to feature Jordan Goward, Caroline Thomas, McKenzie Robins, Olivia Franklin, Sonya Webster, and Caitlyn Wells.

This is an exciting time to be a part of CBT. The November Nutcracker performance will celebrate the 35 anniversary of the company. Company Auditions for aspiring new dancers will take place May 9th at the studio. Children must be 8 years old to participate. Visit for an audition schedule.


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Who From History Would You Like To Meet?

Sources: Statesman Journal | All Things Michael


Some kids were asked by a local newspaper to name someone from history that they would like to meet.

Here are a few of their interesting and delighful responses:

Bridget Raffensperger, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

I would meet Jesus because I could get to learn more about him and hear his teachings.

Hannah Estrabo, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

If I could go back in time I would meet Adam and Eve so I could tell them not to screw up.

Anthony Saltarello, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

Moses, because I could find the Ark of the Covenant.

Samuel Schindler, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

I would meet Lewis and Clark to go on their adventure with them to the west.

Spencer Elliot, Grade 6, Judson

I would want to meet Michael Jackson because I need to learn some of his dance moves.

Kyle Fromwiller, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

If I could meet one person in history it would be John F. Kennedy before he got killed and tell him not to drive in the car he got killed in. Then my president report on him would be more interesting.

Aidan Ayres, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

If I could visit someone from history, it would be Galileo so I can see the planets and stars with him.

Santigo Blanco-Mills, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

I would meet Walt Disney because I could see him create all the Disney magic we have today!

Skyla Troxell, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

I would meet Abraham Lincoln because I am doing a report on him.

Ismael Lopez, Grade 5, Queen of Peace

I would meet George Washington and steal his presidency.



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Watch the “Youngest String Quartet Ever” Perform Vivaldi, Michael Jackson And Katy Perry

Sources: Open Culture | All Things Michael


They’re billed as “the youngest string quartet ever.” The kids began playing in The Joyous String Quartet when they were four years old. Now, fast forward four more years, and they find themselves performing 20 concerts a year around the globe — in places like South Korea and China, and on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Above you can watch them perform Summer “Presto” by Vivaldi.

Below, they give you a classical version of Katy Perry’s “Firework:

And finally Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”

In case you’re wondering, the students come out of The Joyous Music School in Hicksville, NY.

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Maya Angelou And Michael Jackson Will Be The Theme Of The African American Arts And Heritage Academy Summer Program

Sources: | All Things Michael


The African American Arts & Heritage Academy is now accepting applications for its July 13-18 summer academy, which will be held on the campus of West Virginia University, in Morgantown, West Virginia. This year’s theme will focus on Maya Angelou and Michael Jackson.

The academy offers students 13 to 18 years of age one week of concentrated study in an artistic discipline of their choice. Classes and workshops will focus on dance, vocal, instrumental, string music and steel drum playing, theater arts, visual arts, creative writing, song writing and history/culture. A songwriting course has been added for those who have a gift for writing and would like to manifest their words into songs.

The academy will accept approximately 40 students to attend the academy. At the end of the week, the students will present a showcase for faculty, guests and the public.

During the week of the academy, students will join a community of gifted peers and will experience artistic and cultural challenges geared toward their age. They will study a concentrated topic from professional artists and teachers.

The students will also attend specialized field studies hosted by the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation’s STEM program.

Donations for the academy to assist in operational expenses and programming are welcome. Checks should be made payable to AAAHA and submitted to Jacqueline Dooley, Administrative Director, Student Activities P.O. Box 6444, Morgantown, WV 26505

For more information or to request an application, contact Dooley at (304) 657-1801 or Applications are available online. The activity fee for the academy is $210 per student.


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BWW Interviews Reed Shannon Of Motown National Tour

Sources: Broadway World – By  | All Things Michael


Coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center from February 17th-22th is the national touring production of Motown: The Musical featuring Reed Shannon in the roles of Young Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson.

Reed has appeared in productions of The Who‘s Tommy, In the Heights, Oliver!, and Les Miserables at North Carolina Theatre.

JK: To start things off, do you remember your first introduction to the music of Motown?

RS: Well, I don’t remember exactly when I knew it was Motown, but I remember when we would go on trips, we’d play it in the car. Like at Christmas, we would play Christmas Motown. All the time, there would be Motown all around me.

JK: So how did the opportunity come about for you to audition for the musical?

RS: When I was 12 years old, I looked up online an audition for Motown, and there was one that was a week away on Friday the 13th. It was an open call, and I asked my parents if I could go, and they said yes, but only if I do good in school. I did, and so they took me to the auditions where there was over 700 people there. I auditioned, then I waited. They called back to go to New York again for a Michael Jackson workshop.

JK: I guess that Friday the 13th must’ve been a real lucky day for you?

RS: Yes, it was. After that audition, they asked me to do a video audition for the Michael Jackson workshop.

JK: When did you find out that you got cast?

RS: We were in Harlem the day after the Michael Jackson workshop. I performed in front of Mr. Gordy, then they called my dad’s phone and asked if I could be in the national tour. Of course I said yes.

JK: How does it feel for you to be playing three different music icons (Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson) at such a young age?

RS: It feels really amazing because I get to show the love of what my generation can bring to the table, so that the older people who were listening to the music when it was out know we understand the story. It’s really breathtaking that I get to play and meet two of the three icons.

JK: What was it like to meet both Mr. Gordy and Mr. Wonder?

RS: I didn’t pass out, but I was on the edge of it. It was amazing! We met Mr. Gordy many times in Chicago and Detroit where I also met Mr. Wonder. Mr. Gordy is one of the nicest human beings on Earth and Mr. Wonder is the most hilarious non-comedian out there!

JK: What a wonder!

RS: Yes.

JK: So what are you enjoying most about traveling around the country doing this show so far?

RS: Meeting all the people is really, really great! I meet different people in every different city and I make connections for when I go somewhere else.

JK: Since you’re a child actor, you don’t necessarily go on all the time. What do you normally do on nights when you don’t have to go on?

RS: I still have to be at the theatre in case of an emergency involving the other boy in the show. I basically just sit around and wait for the other boy to go onstage. I play on my computer, I read a book sometimes. Then on one of the days on the weekends, I have school.

JK: For a kid your age, how are you able to keep up with performing four times a week?

RS: I think it’s the passion that keeps me going. I have my parents with me, and I’m glad that they discipline me enough so I could sleep. If I didn’t, I would be up all the time.

JK: You were trained at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory, what was your experience like there? Any special memories?

RS: All my memories are from there! The first time I had a solo in the group, I made friends that I’m gonna have for the rest of my life. My whole life is right there! The teachers basically taught me everything I know.

JK: It must be a second home for you.

RS: Yeah, it’s great being home!

JK: As you’re growing up, are there any dream roles you’d love to pursue in the future?

RS: Not that I know of. I mean, if somebody brings something to me and I like it, I guess I’ll go for it. But there’s no certain role that I’d like to do yet. I guess I would like to go on and do TV and movies, but I would also like to do Broadway in New York.

JK: Sometimes, the dream roles may find you rather than you finding them.

RS: Right.

JK: Is there any advice you would like to give any kids out there wanting to pursue a career in the theatre?

RS: Definitely keep on training. Get as much experience in shows as possible, because it will all pay off when you get a role. Also, to keep on doing school.

JK: Reed, I thank you very much for devoting your time to this interview, and I wish you the best of luck withMotown!

RS: Thank you so much!


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Eleven Year Old Returns From Broadway After Playing Michael Jackson

Sources: Deadline Detroit | All Things Michael

all things michael edit

He’s only 11, and he’s already had a great run performing on Broadway.

Detroit’s own Samuel Pickens, a student at the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, has returned home after performing nightly as Michael Jackson on Broadway in ‘Motown: The Musical’ since September, WXYZ reports.

The station reports that he rubbed elbows with celebrities and fans. Samuel got some notoriety after the YouTube video of him his classmates went viral. He was the lead singer in that video in which the students sang Pharell’s song “Happy.”

He’s glad to be back home “because I’m with my friends and family,” Samuel tells WXYZ.  “And I get to talk to them again.”

“It was amazing to play somebody who was one of my biggest role models, that was awesome.” said Samuel, “It’s Michael Jackson we’re talking about!”


See video here