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Chester Gregory Will Lead The Broadway Revival of Motown The Musical (Full Cast Announced)

Drew Shade



Well, it’s that time! Time to go back to dancing in the streets this summer. After touring the country since 2014, the touring company will land on Broadway Tuesday, July 12 at The Nederlander Theatre for a strictly limited 18-week-only engagement through Sunday, November 13, 2016.

The original production of Motown The Musical opened on Broadway April 14th, 2013 and closed January 18th, 2015, with plans to return. Those plans have finally come to fruition.

Leading the cast and making a big Broadway return is musical theater veteran Chester Gregory (Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby, Sister Act) who will star as “Berry Gordy”.

Another great tidbit is the graduation of three original Broadway ensemble members who will now star in leading roles: Allison Semmes as “Diana Ross”, Jarran Muse as “Marvin Gaye” and Jesse Nager as “Smokey Robinson”.

The smash hit production, featuring the music of the legendary Motown catalogue and a book by Berry Gordy, will also star J.J. Batteast and Leon Outlaw, Jr. as Young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson.

The 33-member ensemble cast will feature Nik Alexander, Erick Buckley, Chante Carmel, Chadaé, Lynorris Evans, Anissa Felix, Talya Groves, Rod Harrelson, Robert Hartwell, Rodney Earl Jackson, Jr., Trisha Jeffrey, Jamie LaVerdiere, Elijah Ahmad Lewis,Loren Lott, Jarvis B. Manning, Jr., Krisha Marcano, Marq Moss, Rashad Naylor,Ramone Owens, Olivia Puckett, Nicholas Ryan, Jamison Scott, Joey Stone, Doug Storm, Martina Sykes, Nik Walker and Galen J. Williams.

Congratulations to every member of this cast, many of whom will be making their Broadway debuts!

The show is billed as:

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown The Musical is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever. This exhilarating show charts Motown Founder Berry Gordy’s incredible journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more.  

Featuring all the classics you love, Motown The Musical tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat.

More about the creative team for our #BroadwayBlack creatives:

Motown The Musical’s creative team features choreography by Patricia Wilcox (A Night with Janis Joplin) and Warren Adams (Toy Story), scenic design by David Korins (Hamilton), costume design by Tony Award nomineeESosa(On Your Feet!) lighting design by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz(An American in Paris), sound design by Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski(Something Rotten!) and projection design by Daniel Brodie (Aladdin).  

Motown The Musical features arrangements and orchestrations by Tony and Grammy Award nominee Ethan Popp (School of Rock, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), who also serves as musical supervisor for the orchestra that reproduces the classic “Sound of Young America” for the stage, with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Tony Award nominee Bryan Crook (“Smash”), dance arrangements by Zane Mark (Holler if Ya Hear Me) and music direction by Joseph Joubert (The Color Purple ).

Find out more information about dates, times, & tickets HERE



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Broadway Bound

Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play Will Transfer To Broadway & Put Him in the History Books

Drew Shade



Jeremy O. Harris photo by Jenny Anderson via NYTW
Jeremy O. Harris photo by Jenny Anderson (via NYTW)

Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris will transfer to Broadway making the 30-year-old playwright the youngest black man in history to have a play produced on Broadway and only the sixth Black writer to have a new play on Broadway in the last decade.

A recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Harris wrote Slave Play his first semester in the graduate playwriting program there. New York Theatre Workshop produced the world premiere in 2018 that lead to controversy and critical acclaim from those who had and hadn’t seen it.

Producers Greg NobileJana Shea, Troy CarterLevel Forward and Nine Stories Productions announced the play will transfer to the Golden Theatre this fall.

The limited 17-week engagement beginning performance previews September 10th with an official opening scheduled for October 6th. Robert O’Hara will reprise his role as director with casting for the Broadway run announced at a later date.

The Old South lives on at the MacGregor Plantation — in the breeze, in the cotton fields…and in the crack of the whip. It’s an antebellum fever-dream, where fear and desire entwine in the looming shadow of the Master’s House. Jim trembles as Kaneisha handles melons in the cottage, Alana perspires in time with the plucking of Phillip’s fiddle in the boudoir, while Dustin cowers at the heel of Gary’s big, black boot in the barn. Nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is as it seems.

You can currently read the published play in the July/August issue of American Theatre Magazine

The creative team for the production includes Clint Ramos (scenic design), Dede Ayite (costume design),  Jiyoun Chang (lighting design), Lindsay Jones (sound design and original music), Byron Easley (movement), Claire Warden (intimacy and fight director), Doug Nevin (production counsel), and Taylor Williams (casting director). Mark Shacket serves as Executive Producer.

Harris said, “During my very short time being a professional writer, the world I thought I’d inhabit was one at odds with a commercial theatrical landscape; so to see that this play, Slave Play, that interrogates the traumas Americans have inherited from the legacy of chattel slavery and colonization has a place in the canon of work that has made its way to the Great White Way is both exhilarating and humbling. It also articulates that the leaps the community made in the past Broadway season might not have been a fad but the beginning of a new moment for the theatre to once again attempt to represent discursive American theatrical expression not situated solely within the imaginaries of cis white men, but the imaginaries of all Americans.”

Jeremy O. Harris & Robert O'Hara photo by Jenny Anderson

Jeremy O. Harris & Robert O’Hara photo by Jenny Anderson

O’Hara said, “I’m thrilled as a black queer artist to be collaborating with another black queer artist on what will be both of our Broadway debuts. I think the idea that I can say that openly and proudly is rather profound given the history of our country and of the American theater, but more specifically Broadway which has had and continues to have a general lack of diversity and diverse stories. I feel that Jeremy is joined today by a whole host of exciting young artists who are telling stories outside the main stem which can now hopefully be presented on the main stem. As the margin slowly becomes the center, I believe a cavalcade of voices one would never expect to be heard on Broadway can be and should be demanded. Slave Play is a complex, challenging and exhilarating piece of work and I look forward to presenting it this fall on Broadway.”

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Broadway Bound

Michael Jackson Bio-Musical Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough Will Open in Chicago Ahead of Broadway

Drew Shade



The musical inspired by the life of the deceased pop icon Michael Jackson has found its title, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. Still in development after a reading in June of last year, the musical, named after Jackson’s classic song from the 1979 album Off The Wall, will incorporate the Jackson music catalog.

Focusing on Jackson’s career in his 20s–30s, Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage is attached as the book writer and Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph.

Announced by the Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage, the highly anticipated musical will have an out of town run in Chicago starting October 29th and running through December 1st, 2019 at Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre (formerly the Oriental Theatre) before transferring to Broadway in 2020.

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