“Motown” Concludes Its Run with Plans to Return

The Critical and Commercial Hit Says Goodbye for Now

Vinyl record poster Motown the Musical Broadway Show On March 11, 2013, Motown the Musical began previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, a coveted Broadway house owned by the Nederlander organization. Its opening night was on April 14, 2013, where it received a round of highly positive reviews from critics. Since that time, the musical has played to generally full houses and financial success. The reportedly $18 million musical announced that it would recoup its capitalization by the time it closed, which happened this past week on January 18, 2015 after playing 738 performances (and 37 preview performances). The show was a regular member of the million dollar club on the weekly gross charts, but sales softened in the last season. With very high running costs reaching around $850,000, there was a lot of pressure to sell a full house of full price tickets in order to stay afloat. With that accomplished, the production has decided to shutter this present Broadway incarnation, focusing for the next 18 months on the London production and touring productions. Having decided to depart before sales turned sour, the musical will be thought of as a complete success.

An Unusual 18-Month Hiatus for “Motown the Musical”Motown the Musical Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder

More importantly, the producers have learned that they can mount the show with lower running costs. In the Broadway production, there are 41 performers in addition to 18 in the orchestra, but they found that the touring production was as much of a hit with only 33 actors and 15 in the pit. Though the producers do not plan on mounting the same pared down touring production when the show returns to Broadway in July 2016, the show may end up in the middle of those two versions. This will allow the production to lower its running costs, sustaining its endurance on Broadway for perhaps several or even many years longer. Of course, this is the goal of almost all musical producers: to have their show run as long as possible. It appears that in this case, the show’s creators determined that they would last longer if they took a breather. They made a deal with Nick Scandalios, a top executive in the Nederlander organization, who promised to give Motown a Nederlander theatre (no promises which) when it returns in July 2016. The reason the landlord agreed is that this allowed them to open up the desirable Lunt-Fontanne, which many other productions – including Harvey Weinstein’s Finding Neverland – are vying for.

In the Meantime, London and U.S. National Tour

The London production of this hit musical is planned to open this upcoming summer 2015. Employing another cost-saving strategy, the producers have decided to use the Broadway costumes and sets in the West End. If the London show is a hit beyond July 2016, they will likely have to make or acquire new sets and costumes, but that window leaves enough time for the show to open and close if it cannot find its legs in the West End. Either way, it is a smart strategy given the odds. In addition, the U.S. tour is ongoing and has just left Chicago. The first U.S. tour grossed $20 million over the course of 16 weeks, so the producers have a reason to be optimistic about the future of this musical, even if the Broadway production is temporarily closed.

Broadway-Bound Motown Has Found Its Young Michael Jackson

Jibreel Mawry

Jibreel Mawry

Motown the Musical, the new Broadway musical that tells the story of Motown Records and its founder Berry Gordy, has found the talented young actors who will play youthful versions of Berry Gordy, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder. Jibreel Mawry and Raymond Luke Jr., who were found during a country-wide casting search, will share the three roles in Motown the Musical.

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown the Musical features many hits from Motown Records’ incredible catalog, which includes music by legends such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and of course Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

Motown the Musical is set to begin preview performances at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on March 11, with an official opening night set for April 14.

Broadway Casting Call For the Young Michael Jackson

Motown the Musical, a new tuner that has plans to hit Broadway in the spring of 2013, is now casting for a young African-American actor (between the ages of 8 and 11) to portray the young Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Berry Gordy. To take on these three iconic roles, the show is searching for a charismatic performer who has “a phenomenal high tenor singing voice, [has] rhythm and can move and sound like Michael Jackson in his Jackson 5 days.”

Motown the Musical is about the legendary Motown records label and its founder, Berry Gordy, Jr. Gordy himself is writing the book to the musical, and the songs will be from Motown’s incredible catalog. The show is expected to include hits that were made famous by such artists as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, and of course Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson & The Jackson Five.

Talented youngsters interested in being considered for the part in this Broadway-bound musical can audition by video. More info is available at www.motownthemusical.com/Casting.