Motown: the Musical | Unity Through Music

Motown the Musical made its way to Starlight Theatre last week, bringing with it an amazing and entertaining story.

Daniel Robert Sullivan, a UMKC alum appears in the show as 5 characters. The most notable being Barney Ales, the right hand man to Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown.

From the beginning, “Motown” is a force to be reckoned with, a one of a kind musical movement.

Gordy helped launch the career of many well-known artists including Diana Ross, Marvin Gay, Jackson 5, and Smokey Robinson.

No matter how much you may have previously known about Motown, the musical touched on numerous aspects of Gordy’s legacy spanning his entire career. Each scene gave you soul, entertainment, something you might not have already known.

There’s never a dull moment, with the audience either humming to a tune or listening intently as characters talk about racial issues, love, and the music business.

Throughout the show you could see audience members dancing and grooving to favorite hits many of them grew up on.

After witnessing first-hand the sheer talent of the performers, the amount of energy, and the consideration they put into their roles, it’s no wonder there was a packed house at Starlight.

“It felt spectacular to hit the stage, there were over 8,000 people watching,” said Sullivan. “There’s just so many people, it’s really powerful.”

The musical’s most moving aspect, was how it portrayed the love all of Gordy’s artist had for him, along with his dedication to making something different. Gordy wanted to create music that could change the world during a time the country needed it the most. He believed music could unite people.

Motown appealed to Sullivan because it started when racial tensions were high, and Gordy used music to help break down those barriers.

Motown the Musical is a story about unity. It’s a story about music and art bringing people together, and that’s why we’re doing the show this year in America at a time arguably, America needs to come together,” said Sullivan. “This is one little way of doing that, it’s the artistic contribution.”

The show impacted the audience the same way Motown impacted the country in the 1960’s. At one point in the show Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) had the audience members link hands with one another and sing one of Rosses hit songs, “Reach Out and Touch.”

In that moment, as everyone held hands and swayed them high in the sky, everyone was united. Nothing mattered but the music.

Gordy never gave up on himself and his dream. He always strived to make people happy, and to be the best him he could be, a lesson he learned from his Father. He was head strong, business savvy and didn’t allow anyone to get in the way of him creating something great, something bigger than himself.

Whether you’re into music, the arts or neither, “Motown the Musical” is an outstanding show everyone should witness.

For details on upcoming Starlight shows you can, call 816.363.STAR (7827) or visit the Starlight box.

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