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