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Berry Gordy: bringing Motown the Musical to the UK means ‘everything’

Berry Gordy and Lucy St Louis at the launch of Motown The Musical. Photo: Craig Sugden Berry Gordy and Lucy St Louis at the launch of Motown The Musical. Photo: Craig Sugden
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Motown founder Berry Gordy has spoken of the importance of casting UK performers in the forthcoming musical based on his life, claiming he had been told it would be “impossible”.

The writer of Motown the Musical said bringing the show to London meant “everything” to him, and added he was keen for the majority of the cast to be made up of UK performers. However, he revealed that others close to the show warned him this would not be possible.

“I am thrilled to be here and even more thrilled that we were able to get all the talent practically from here, which we were told was impossible and that we would never do it,” he said.

Gordy described the show, which features music from Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, as a “labour of love”, adding that he hoped that audiences from all generations would appreciate the music in it.

It is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, who backed Gordy in saying how important it had been to cast the show, which is currently running on Broadway, with UK talent.

“To find the kind of talent like this woman [Lucy St Louis, who plays Diana Ross]… to discover these people is extraordinary,” he said.

He acknowledged that launching new musicals was challenging, but added: “What Mr Gordy says is how I feel – the truth is a hit, and when you tell something honestly, you wait and see what happens.”

He added: “This comes from Berry. He wrote it, it’s his journey, and audiences feel that. That is thrilling to us.”

The show will star Cedric Neal as Berry Gordy and St Louis as Ross. Other cast members include Cherelle Williams as Mary Wilson and Simeon Montague as Jermaine Jackson.

Motown the Musical begins previews at the Shaftesbury Theatre on February 11 next year, with press night on March 8.