Tickets For The West End Opening Of Motown The Music On Sale Today

Sources: Broadway World | All Things Michael

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Tickets for the West End production of Motown the Musical,opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre in February 2016, are released for sale today (15 May 2015). With music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Motown the Musical is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. London previews will begin on 11 February 2016 with press night on 8 March 2016 with the show booking to 22 October 2016. Casting and further information about Motown the Musical will be released shortly.

Berry Gordy said: “I am thrilled to be bringing Motown back to the UK fifty years after our first visit back in 1965 when Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and I came to London for our very first UK tour. Half a century later we are delighted to be returning, this time bringing our story and the Motown sound on stage at the Shaftesbury Theatre in the legendary West End.”

With just $800 borrowed from his family, Motown founder Berry Gordy, goes from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul, discovering and launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more. Motown The Musical uncovers the true story of the legendary record label that changed music history and created the soundtrack of a generation.

 

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Review: Leon Outlaw Jr. As Young Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder And Berry Gordy In Motown The Musical

Sources: EuroWeb – By DeBorah P. Pryor | Edited By – All Things Michael

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It will probably come as no surprise that the audience went nuts when “The Jackson Five” came on the scene. Though there are three actors cast in the role of young Michael Jackson, at this performance Leon Outlaw, Jr. performed the role (to sheer perfection, I might add). Several of the ensemble actors perform multiple roles; and young Outlaw also did well as young Berry and Stevie Wonder (another awesome performance as it is no easy task to prop your head the way Stevie does and look authentic. Kudos also to the older Stevie Wonder as well, played by Elijah Ahmad Lewis).

But as Michael Jackson, this kid was so on point. Not only did Outlaw have that pure, authentic voice we recall in young Michael so well; but he had the spirit of the youngster down pat. The first sign of which was evident in the scene where he and his brothers had finished their audition for Gordy and “Michael” runs over to the CEO and excitedly asks, “Are you gonna sign us?”

Another incredible moment for the audience was that familiar “purple hat” performance (see photo below) on the Ed Sullivan show; where at the beginning, the pose of the group alone, send many into a frenzy.

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Reed Shannon Talks Motown The Musical

Sources: Broadway World | All Things Michael

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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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Motown The Musical Is Coming To Washington DC

Sources: The National Theatre | All Things Michael

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It began as one man’s story… became everyone’s music… and is now Broadway’s musical. 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, Smokey Robinson and many more.

Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Featuring classic songs such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” experience the story behind the music in the record-breaking smash hit Motown The Musical!

For more information on Motown, click here.

DATES: December 1, 2015 –  January 3, 2016

Show Run Time2 hours 40 minutes including intermission.

Where: The National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Get TICKETS HERE

 

Motown The Musical Will Move Into Memphis’ Theater in London’s West End in Spring 2016

Sources: Broadway.com –  By Imogen Lloyd Webber| All Things Michael

Motown the Musical

Hail to the beat! The previously reported London production ofMotown The Musical will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End in March 2016. According to the Daily Mail, the venue’s current occupant, Memphis, is currently expected to close in October.

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright and featuring a book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Motown The Musical‘s score includes over 50 beloved hits from the Motown catalogue. The show tells the story of Gordy’s rise from small-town dreamer to big-time record mogul. Along the way, he discovers a slew of musical talent including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and the legendary Diana Ross, with whom he sparks a romance.

The Broadway production played its final performance on January 18 at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre to make way for Finding Neverland.Motown intends to return to the Great White Way in summer 2016 at a Nederlander theater to be announced.

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Reed Shannon: “I Try To Do My Best To Show Everybody Michael Through Me”

Sources: ABC11.com – By Anthony Wilson | All Things Michael

"Motown The Musical" Opening Night

Reed Shannon is a friendly 14-year-old who just happens to be one of the stars the Broadway show.

Reed plays three roles in the musical. He plays Motown founder Berry Gordy as a child and he plays the young Stevie Wonder. Also, in a particularly memorable performance, he plays Michael Jackson at the start of his career as lead singer for the Jackson Five.

His family says it’s a real thrill to see Reed on stage. He grew up in Wake County, where his theatrical preparation included training at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory. His parents were big fans of the Jackson 5 when they were kids.

“The first LP that I bought with my own newspaper throwing money was “ABC,” said Reed’s dad, Keith Shannon. “I could hit the high notes then, not like Reed can hit ’em, though!”

He sure can, as anyone who has witnessed Reed’s electrifying performance as Michael Jackson will tell you.

At one point in the production, Reed wears the wide-brimmed purple hat, fringed vest, and bell bottom pants the real Michael sported for the group’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Reed commented on how it feels for the local audience to react to his performance at DPAC so positively.

“Berry Gordy always says ‘The truth is a hit.’ And so I try to do my best to show everybody Michael through me,” Reed said. “And I guess I did good enough!”

Watch Reed in action and it’s clear that he’s really studied Michael Jackson’s moves. His mother told us he’s was into the music and performances of the Jackson 5 long before he was cast in the musical.

“There were parts of Michael Jackson’s moves that Reed had to learn, and so he would go back and look at that clip,” said his mother, Belinda Shannon.

She’s referring to an iconic black and white video that shows young Michael doing the ‘James Brown’ while singing “I Got The Feeling,” recorded for review by Berry Gordy before he signed the Jackson 5.

The family says it’s great to have him back in town after more than a year on the road with the touring company.

“This is the 13th city that we’re in, in one year,” said his dad. “In Detroit, Reed got to be onstage with Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and a lot of the folks who started Motown.”

When complimented on his performance, the humble performer gives credit to his cast mates, including the preteen who shares the roles Reed plays.

“Leon Outlaw, Jr. is his name. He’s 12 years old and he’s from Brooklyn, New York,” Reed explained.

Reed’s playing before sold out crowds at the DPAC on a cold and icy weekend. So, he’s really looking forward to Motown: The Musical’s next stop: Florida.

“Yes, I’m so excited, so excited,” he said with his eyes lighting up. “When we get there on Monday it’s gonna be 83 degrees!”

Motown: The Musical ends on February 22.

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Reed Shannon On Tour With ‘Motown The Musical’

Sources: The Herald Sun – By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan| All Things Michael

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“Motown the Musical” was a hit on Broadway and closed last month, taking a break to go on a national tour before returning to New York City in 2016. The tour is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center Feb. 17-22 and is already sold out.

Two young cast members share the role of a young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson. Reed LoRenzo Shannon, from Wake Forest, got his theatrical start at North Carolina Theatre Conservatory in Raleigh in Raleigh and joined “Motown the Musical” in spring 2014 in Chicago. The Herald-Sun spoke with Reed, 14, recently when he was home in North Carolina on vacation.

It’s been a very busy year for the teenager, so over the break, “I just like to chill,” he said.

Reed’s mom, Belinda Shannon, who works in Research Triangle Park, said her son being cast in “Motown” has changed their lives, but also been exciting. Reed started taking theater classes at age 4 for fun. He has two older sisters — one is a student at Spelman College in Atlanta and the other is a captain in the Army. His future goals include serving as an Army officer.

Reed was cast in “Motown” after going to an open call in New York.

“I was just going to audition to see what my odds were,” Reed said. “There were about 700 people in line with me.” He was called to do a Michael Jackson workshop and was contacted the next day. He then auditioned for Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown itself plus the book writer for the show, as well as for Charles Randolph-Wright, the director of “Motown.” Randolph-Wright is a graduate of Duke University.

When Reed found out he got the job, he was eating. It was a long day and he was hungry, so he kept eating, he said, but smiled when he heard the good news. He began performing the role in Chicago, where he moved with his dad for five months during the production there.

Reed said the Stevie Wonder role is a short part, but he sings for his Michael Jackson role.

“Michael Jackson has such a unique voice, I didn’t want to mess it up,” he said. He listened to a lot of older Jackson songs and Gordy told him about Jackson as a child.

Reed thinks all the songs in “Motown” are “really amazing.” If he had to choose a favorite, it would be “Maybe Tomorrow” by the Jackson 5.

“I love that song. It’s just a nice song and the lyrics are great,” he said.

Reed already knew a lot of Motown songs — his parents played them at home and on road trips.

Reed shares the role of young Gordy/Wonder/Jackson with cast member Leon Outlaw Jr. He explained that because they’re under age 16, they can’t do eight shows a week, so they alternate nights.

“We don’t have a lot of time to do kid stuff,” Reed said, about their time off stage. They go to school, eat dinner and then do the show and go to bed, he said. They do go see who’s waiting at the stage door, though cold weather kept people away lately.

Reed has been to DPAC before, to see the national tour “Billy Elliot.” He’s very excited to be back, this time on stage.

“I just love the thought that I get to show all my friends and family what I’ve been working on since I left a year ago,” he said.

The rest of the “Motown” cast is great, talented, and taught him a lot about the business, Reed said. He’s learned to eat right, not talk all the time to preserve his voice, and to have something with him to keep him occupied.

The most fun part of being in “Motown” has been meeting all the people, he said. The tour is booked until the end of the year. Then what?

“Hopefully I’ll get roles on TV and movies, or a Broadway role in New York,” Reed said. He’ll continue to perform, he said, then go to college.

Durhamites who don’t have tickets already to “Motown” will still have a chance to see Reed and his parents for a special event at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 1007 S. Roxboro St., in Durham.

Belinda Shannon said they’re excited to be part of Mount Vernon’s Black History Month programs, especially as the musical takes place against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South. The Shannons will visit the church from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 for a “fireside chat” about Reed’s career.

WHAT: “Motown the Musical”

WHEN: Feb. 17-22

WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center

123 Vivian St., Durham

TICKETS: Sold out.

 

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BWW Interviews Reed Shannon Of Motown National Tour

Sources: Broadway World – By  | All Things Michael

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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. http://www.reedshannon.com

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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