Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

Motown Is an Entertaining and Important Musical

Anyone who loves music and a good time is sure to love Motown: the Musical, onstage now at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). This fast-paced show goes through many classic songs that were made possible by the famed Motown record label. Songs by some of the biggest names from the 60s to the 80s are included, and the eras are brought to life through perfect costumes and decade-specific set touches, all working together to effectively transport the viewer back in time and provide a fun, nostalgic, and even educational whirlwind of a show that viewers of all ages are sure to enjoy.

The new national tour of Motown the Musical stars (from left) Gabriella Whiting as Florence Ballard, Allison Semmes as Diana Ross, and Tavia Riveé as Mary Wilson (2017 photo © by Joan Marcus)

The new national tour of Motown the Musical stars (from left) Gabriella Whiting as Florence Ballard, Allison Semmes as Diana Ross, and Tavia Riveé as Mary Wilson (2017 photo © by Joan Marcus)

The show features a large ensemble cast, with many actors juggling multiple roles. However, one of the standout characters is certainly that of Marvin Gaye, portrayed at the opening night performance by understudy Malcolm Armwood, who certainly did not disappoint.

Other standouts include Chester Gregory in the role of Berry Gordy and David Kaverman as Smokey Robinson. These real-life characters, all of whom are written and represented in historically accurate ways, provide an interesting glimpse into an important part of music history, making the production every bit as informative as it is entertaining. It is not just music history the show touches on either; it also takes a look at difficult and shameful periods in America’s history- portraying these issues in an honest, head-on sort of way.

While Motown may not be the first musical of its type, it is one of the most culturally important. Plus, it really does offer up a good time, with one familiar song after another and adding layers of significance to each song, making it well worth a viewing or two.

Motown Records transformed Detroit into "Hitsville U.S.A." (2017 photo © by Joan Marcus)

Motown Records transformed Detroit into “Hitsville U.S.A.” (2017 photo © by Joan Marcus)

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents MOTOWN THE MUSICAL at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $30 and up. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

SHOW: and



THE TOUR:,,,, and





NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5th, performance.


Motown the Musical (2013 Broadway and 2016 West End musical): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), (Wikipedia), and (YouTube).

Berry Gordy, Jr. (Detroit, MI-born composer, lyricist, and librettist and founder of Motown Records): (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Motown Records (Detroit, MI-based record company, founded in 1959: (official website) and (Wikipedia).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews