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Motown: A Jukebox Musical with Sass and Rhythm!

12 January 2018

Motown, the U.S. non-equity national tour, is currently in town for the weekend (Jan 11-14 2018) bringing musical joy to its Southern California audience with its jam-packed jukebox musical (over 50 hit numbers such as "ABC" and "Stop in the Name of Love").
Unfortunately the opening night (11 Jan) was marred by a fire alarm unexplainably going off just before the grand finale but hopefully all other performances will run smoothly. The joys and pitfalls of live theater. ⌣ But that is not going to ruin my memories of the great night out. Aside from hearing the amazing hit numbers live, the audience on 11 January were treated to fantastic foot work choreographed by Brian Harlan Brooks and many from the 'older' generations were able to laugh and clap aloud to moments that skipped over my 33 year old head (whoops, hehe) such as Rob McCaffrey's top notch Ed Sullivan interpretation that was the cause for many chortles and laughs from the audience. And dare I not mention all the incredible vocalists in the cast with hardly a weak note among them. 
Chase Phillips as Michael Jackson. Photo by Joan Marcus.
If one had to pick out the weakest performance it would also have be one of the audience's favorites -- Chase Phillips (who rotates with Kai Calhoun) playing the roles of Young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson. His turn as a young Michael Jackson sees him on stage with the other Jackson 5 singing and dancing to memorable numbers such as "ABC". Unfortunately midway through his second number he did get winded and lost some steam but man did the audience love the kid. He is so full of energy and excitement and charisma. How can you not adore him?
Trenyce and Kenneth Mosley. Photo by Michael Pool.
But it is the show's 2 stars who will have you coming back for more and more. Being that this is a jukebox musical, the storyline tends to be limited and weak to make room for the infectious dancing and singing. However leading man Kenneth Mosley who stars as Berry Gordy is able to keep the rhythm flowing and prevents the show from dragging during the mini vignettes highlighting his personal life and highs and lows with Motown Records. He also knows how to tug at the heartstrings with his warming rendition of "To Be Loved" in the First Act.
Trenyce as Diana Ross. Photo by Michael Pool.
Trenyce in American Idol. Photo Credit: American Idol.
And even though the ensemble is filled to the brim with incredible vocalists such as Justin Reynolds (Smokey Robinson) and Matt Manuel (Marvin Gaye) the show ultimately belongs to leading lady and American Idol alumni, Trenyce, as Diana Ross.

Trenyce seamlessly takes Diana Ross from a young high school senior full of sass and spunk to a big time singer dealing with a business-personal relationship with Gordy to an unhappy superstar who sees no future with her lover. [Interestingly the show does not touch on the fact Diana Ross was 2 months pregnant with Gordy's daughter when she married her first husband Silberstein.] And the way she is able to connect with the audience at the top of the Second Act was brilliant. Trenyce is a talent that saw a too brief career on American Idol Season 2 and hopefully will no longer be hidden in the background after she takes the country by storm with her sensational performance as Diana Ross. This is one lady who deserves a big break and could easily carry this role in an equity production.

While the mediocre scenic design by David Korins (high praise to Projection Designer Daniel Brodie for making the most of the space) and minuscule "orchestra" under the baton of Conductor/Keyboard 1 Matthew Croft scream non-equity tour, the sensational casting by Wojcik and Seay Casting and the gorgeous costume design by Emilio Sosa all but makes up for it. And a big thank you to Director Charles Randolph-Wright for his delicate and appropriate approach to the social context surrounding Motown (JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Gaye, etc.) using Kenneth Mosley's calm presence as Gordy as a voice of reason in a time of hostile.

So do yourself a favor... turn off the television, stop reading the depressing news and get a ticket to see the enchanting and thoroughly entertaining Motown the Musical! You'll be clapping along, shaking your head with laughter and humming a tune or two on the way out...

Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + fees
Parking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+ (adult language)
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.

Mudslides Close 101 Freeway!

10 January 2018

Hi Loves. Sorry it has been ages since the last post but I caught the nasty flu/virus that has been going around. Finally back on the up and up and making up all those doctor appointments I had to cancel the last couple weeks, woot woot.

101 Fwy. Photo by Greg Villeneuve.
In local news... 

I am sure you've heard of the horrific mud flooding in Montecito (Santa Barbara) yesterday morning. The 101 Freeway has been closed between Santa Barbara and Ventura and 13+ are dead. Horrific.

Prayers and best wishes with all families and friends and survivors.



Thanks to Island Packers commuters do have an option to get to and from Ventura and Santa Barbara for the duration of the 101 freeway closure.
Dad and I onboard Island Explorer.
For specific details including fare prices and contact information, visit their website here.

We have yet to hear if Motown the Musical (non-equity national tour) will be able to move from their last theater in Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks (scheduled dates 1/11-1/14) due to the 101 Freeway closure so 

Update (4:20pm PST): The Motown tour will be going the long way around to Thousand Oaks and should be ready to perform on 1/11 as planned!
 

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