Performances in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa
Performances for Motown The Musical begin Tuesday, February 24 for a limited two week run through Sunday, March 8 and is a part of the 2014-2015 Broadway in Fort Lauderdale Series presented by Broadway Across America and Florida Theatrical Association in partnership with The Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Afterwards, Motown The Musical will make two stops in Central Florida, from March 10-15 at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando and from March 17-22 at the Straz Center in Tampa.
The whole cast of characters features groundbreaking Motown artists. Clifton Oliver and Allison Semmes will star in the leading roles of Berry Gordy and Diana Ross. Jesse Nager will play Smokey Robinson and Jarran Muse will play Marvin Gaye. Leon Outlaw, Jr. and Reed L. Shannon will portray Berry Gordy’s boyhood counterpart and the roles of young stars Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Jesse Nager for this exclusive Hotspots Interview, just weeks before the show is in Florida.
How does it feel to play such an iconic role as Smokey Robinson?
It’s crazy. It’s an honor. It’s a huge responsibility. It’s a blast. This man is such an icon. But he is also such a nice guy. So I love getting to step into his shoes every night.
You were in the Broadway cast. How does the touring show differ from the one on Broadway?
Touring is so exciting because we get to compare the personalities of each city. Some cities are rowdier than others. Some more intellectual. It’s fun to see the show changing based on how the audience responds differently in each venue.
You have sung with divas such as Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, and Patti LaBelle. Tell us about those experiences.
Those were bonkers. You know, you see these celebrities on TV and hear them on the radio every day, but what it all comes down to is that they are people. Good, nice, talented people. I loved that working with them broke some of the mystique and awe of celebrity.
On a personal note, you got married to your partner Jacob five years ago. Can you tell us about the ceremony and how getting married changed your lives?
The ceremony was super small. Just him and my mother and myself. TODAY is actually our 5th anniversary! Yay! Luckily he is the operations manager of The Broadway Boys and can work from anywhere. So he gets to tour with me and we can see the country together!
What makes Motown the Musical unique?
Motown is pretty special in that it offers a unique look into the lives of a musical empire. Sure, you hear songs that you know and love, but I think what is more interesting is that you hear the stories behind them. Who liked who? Who didn’t like who? Who was competing with whom? It’s a blast to see ideas and events turn into the music that we know and love.
Motown The Musical will also feature Erick Buckley, Patrice Covington, Christian Dante White, Jamarice Daughtry, Tamar Davis, Lynorris Evans, Melanie Evans, Devon Goffman, Jennie Harney, Latrisa Harper, Rod Harrelson, Robert Hartwell, Rodney Earl Jackson, Jr., Trisha Jeffrey, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Jarvis Manning, Krisha Marcano, Marq Moss, Rashad Naylor, Chadaè Nichol, Ramone Owens, Nicholas Rowe, Jamison Scott, Joey Stone, Douglas Storm, Martina Sykes and Galen Williams.
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, 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, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more. Featuring more than 40 classic hits such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” 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.
Motown The Musical features choreography by Patricia Wilcox (A Night with Janis Joplin) and Warren Adams (Toy Story), scenic design by David Korins (Bring It On: The Musical, Annie), costume design by Tony Award nominee ESosa (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, “Project Runway”), lighting design by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Once, Sister Act), sound design by Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski (Rock of Ages, The Scottsboro Boys), projection design by Daniel Brodie (Jekyll and Hyde), hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe (Memphis) and casting by Telsey + Company.
Motown The Musical’s arrangements and orchestrations are by Grammy and Tony Award nominee Ethan Popp (Rock of Ages), who also serves as music supervisor in reproducing the classic “Sound of Young America,” with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Tony Award nominee Bryan Crook (“Smash”) and dance arrangements by Zane Mark (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). Motown The Musical is produced by Tony Award winning producer Kevin McCollum (Rent, In the Heights, Avenue Q), Chairman and CEO of SONY Music Entertainment Doug Morris and Motown founder Berry Gordy.
Tickets to Motown The Musical are available at the Box Office at the Broward Center, the Dr. Phillips Center and the Straz Center. Visit browardcenter.org, drphillipscenter.org and strazcenter.org for more information.