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PREVIEW: Motown: The Musical (Orpheum Theatre/HTT)

Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye in Motown: The Musical. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The 2016-2017 Bank of America Broadway on Hennepin Season comes to a close on July 17th. This season hosted by the Hennepin Theatre Trust will go out with a retro bang with Motown: The Musical, which plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis from July 11-17.

A promotional image for Motown: The Musical.

Like Million Dollar Quartet, Motown: The Musical is in many ways a showcase for the work of a legendary producer – in this case, Berry Gordy Jr. [sic], who founded the Motown label itself. Gordy, who serves as one of the show producers, had a knack for discovering and cultivating talent. Well, more than a knack: in addition to numerous one-hit wonders, Motown’s list of stars included Mary Wells, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, the Contours, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Commodores, the Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson 5 – to name only the most famous chart toppers.

Among the more unusual features of the tour is the costume design by ESosa of Project Runway. To recreate the distinctive sounds of these iconic performers, Motown featuresmusical arrangements and orchestrations by Ethan Popp and sound design by Peter Hylenski, both of whose work to recreate classic rock bands’ sounds was seen by local audiences in Rock of Ages.

Here’s a look at this blast from the past (all photos by Joan Marcus).

The Temptations in Motown: The Musical.
Chester Gregory (Berry Gordy) and Allison Semmes (Diana Ross).
Chester Gregory as Berry Gordy (center right) and the cast of Motown: The Musical.
Gabriella Whiting (Florence Ballard), Allison Semmes (Diana Ross), and Tavia Riveé (Mary Wilson) as The Supremes – one of the greatest hits of the Motown label.
CJ Wright as Michael Jackson (center) with the Jackson 5.

Motown: The Musical plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis from July 11-17.

Twin Cities Arts Reader