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Casting Announced for Motown The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre

By Tom Stratford

Cedric Neal (Berry Gordy) and Lucy St. Louis (Diana Ross) will lead the cast in the West End production of Motown the Musical, opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre in February 2016

Cedric Neal (Berry Gordy) and Lucy St. Louis (Diana Ross) will lead the cast in the West End production of Motown the Musical, opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre in February 2016.  With music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Motown the Musical is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.  London previews will begin on 11 February 2016, with press night on 8 March 2016, with the show booking to 22 October 2016.
Further casting includes Keisha Amponsa Banson (Mary Wells), Cherelle Williams (Mary Wilson), Cleopatra Rey (Gladys Knight), Cindy Belliot (Anna Gordy), Aisha Jawondo (Martha Reeves), Samuel Edwards (Jackie Wilson), Brandon Lee Sears (Tito Jackson), Joshua Liburd (Eddie Kendricks) and Simeon Montague (Jermaine Jackson).  They are joined by Daniel Bailey, Edward Baruwa, Tanya Nicola Edwards, Eddie Elliot, Portia Harry and Simon Ray Harvey.  Final full casting will be announced shortly.
Cedric Neal's (Berry Gordy) US theatre credits include After Midnight on Broadway, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess on Broadway and for Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, Dreamgirls for the Signature Theatre for which he won a Helen Hayes Award, The Who's Tommy, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Stagger Lee  for the Dallas Theater Center. Neal has also worked at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Zach Theater and was a recurring character on the television series Friday Night Lights. 
Lucy St. Louis (Diana Ross) is currently performing in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre.  Her previous theatre credits include The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Ragtime for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Peter Pan for the Venue Cymru, Llandudno and Ultimate Broadway for the Shanghai Culture Square Theatre. On film, she will be seen in the upcoming Disney live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
With just $800 borrowed from his family, Motown founder Berry Gordy, goes from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul, discovering and launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more.  Motown the Musical uncovers the true story of the legendary record label that changed music history and created the soundtrack of a generation.  
Featuring a sixteen piece orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks including Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’ll Be There, Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl and I Heard It through the Grapevine, Charles Randolph-Wright’s production tells the story behind the classic hits.
Tony nominated Motown the Musical received its world premiere in April 2013 in New York at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and recouped its $18 million investment by the end of 2014.  The first US National Tour opened to critical acclaim last spring in Chicago, grossing $20 million dollars during its standing room only sixteen-week run, and continues to play to packed houses across America.
Motown the Musical has music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Ethan Popp, co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Bryan Cook, dance arrangements by Zane Mark and music direction by Gareth Weedon.  Choreography is by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams, scenic design by David Korins, costumes by Esosa, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Peter Hylenski and projections by Daniel Brodie. UK associate director is Tara Wilkinson, UK associate set designer is Andrew Edwards and UK associate lighting designer is Alistair Grant. Motown the Musical will be produced in the West End by Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris, Berry Gordy and Adam Spiegel.
Berry Gordy is the founder of Motown, the enterprise that nurtured the careers of, amongst others, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles,​ Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, ​Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 and more​. Gordy is also a songwriter, producer, director, boxer, innovative entrepreneur, teacher and visionary.  Actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, he also released the recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His films include Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues, which received five Academy Award nominations. He has been inducted​ into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received ​a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Pioneer Award,​ the Grammy Salute To Industry Icon’s President’s Merit Award and was honored by President Barack Obama with a Salute to Motown evening at the White House. Berry Gordy’s unparalleled contribution to music and popular culture is chronicled in his autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown.
Charles Randolph-Wright is a director, writer and producer for theatre, film, and television. His theatre directing credits include Motown the Musical on Broadway and the US tour, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined and Sophisticated Ladies at Arena Stage where he is an inaugural resident playwright, the 75th Anniversary international tour of Porgy and Bess, Love/Life at Lincoln Center with Brian Stokes Mitchell, the national tour of Guys and Dolls, They’re Playing Our Song in Brazil in Portuguese, and most recently, the world premiere of Akeelah and the Bee.  Randolph-Wright wrote the plays Blue, The Night Is A Child, Cuttin’ Up, Love in Afghanistan, and co-wrote Just Between Friends - Bea Arthur on Broadway.  He directed the award-winning film Preaching to the Choir, and has written screenplays for HBO, Showtime, Disney and Fox.  His television credits include directing Lincoln Heights, South of Nowhere, Bebe Winans’ special America America, the “Freestyle” football commercial for Nike, and producing and writing the Showtime series Linc’s.  

David Korins is a New York based scenic and production designer for theater, film, opera, television, concerts, festivals, residential and commercial spaces and immersive experiences. His Broadway credits include Annie, Bring It On, Chinglish, An Evening with Patti LuPone & Mandy Patinkin, Magic/Bird, Godspell, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Lombardi, Passing Strange and Bridge and Tunnel. He has also worked extensively both Off-Broadway and regionally. David's opera credits include The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at San Francisco Opera and Oscar and Life is a Dream at the Santa Fe Opera. In 2011, David served as Kanye West’s creative director designing several concerts in the United States and abroad. David has designed installations across the country for festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and The Great GoogaMooga. He has been the production designer for several feature films, television specials and series on NBC, CBS, HBO, Bravo TV, IFC, Comedy Central, Lifetime and the Game Show Network. David has done commercial work for Target, Samsung, World MasterCard, McDonald's and Friendly's. He has received a Drama Desk Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, three Henry Hewes Awards and the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design.

Rod Lemmond has been Senior Designer and Partner at David Korins Design since its inception. He has been the Lead Associate on more than 200 shows and projects over the past 10 years. His Broadway credits include Annie, Chinglish, An Evening with Patti LuPone & Mandy Patinkin, Magic/Bird, Godspell, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Lombardi, Passing Strange and Bridge and Tunnel. Rod has also worked extensively both off-Broadway and regionally and on TV, commercial & film projects around the country. Rod is a fourth generation craftsmen and woodworker. His knowledge of construction, furniture and its design has been a major contribution to the many projects produced by David Korins Design. Rod holds a Masters of Fine Arts from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts with a concentration in design for Theater and Film.
ESOSA (Costume Design)
Broadway: Porgy and Bess (Tony Award nomination), Topdog / Underdog. Off-Broadway: Second Stage: Water by the Spoonful; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lucille Lortel Award); Trust; Crowns. MCC: Break of Noon (Geffen Playhouse). Delacorte: The Capeman. Public Theater: Juan and John, Father Comes Home from the Wars, Romeo and Juliet. NYTW: The Misanthrope, All That I Will Ever Be. Regional: La Jolla/Center Theatre Group: American Night; Arena Stage: Ruined, Cuttin’ Up, Senor Discretion Himself (Helen Hayes Award nominee); Alliance: Twist; Pasadena Playhouse: Twist (2011 Ovation Award); A.R.T.: Best of Both Worlds; Geva Theatre: Fences; Berkeley Rep: The Blue Door; Bay Street Theatre: Big Maybelle: Queen of the Blues; Turandot: The Rumble for the Ring; Ain’t Misbehavin’; Centerstage: Once on This Island, Gleam; Williamstown Theatre Festival: Whaddabloodclot!!!; Denver Center Theatre Co.: Sense & Sensibility The Musical (upcoming). 

NATASHA KATZ (Lighting Design)
has designed extensively for theater, opera, and dance. Recent Broadway credits: Once (Tony Award®), Follies, Sister Act, Elf, The Addams Family, The Little Mermaid, The Coast of Utopia: Salvage (Tony Award), A Chorus Line (revival), Spelling Bee, Tarzan, Aida (Tony Award) and Beauty and the Beast. Other designs include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Royal Ballet), Buried Child (National Theatre, London), Cyrano (The Met), Carnival of the Animals (NYCB), Don Quixote (ABT); EFX! (Las Vegas). She has worked extensively Off-Broadway including Altar Boyz and The Normal Heart. Her many regional credits include work at: The Mark Taper Forum, Trinity Rep, ART, Dallas Theatre Center, Spoleto, Alliance and Seattle Rep. Opera/dance: NYC Ballet, London Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Philadelphia Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Edinburgh Festival, Metropolitan Opera, and The NYC Opera. Concert acts: Shirley MacLaine, Ann-Margret and Tommy Tune. Las Vegas: EFX! Permanent lighting installations: Niketown NYC and London and the Big Bang at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.

Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award nominated. Selected Broadway designs include: Shrek the Musical (New York, US Tour, London), Rock of Ages (New York, London, Toronto, Australia, US Tour, Las Vegas), The Scottsboro Boys, Lend Me A Tenor, Elf, Wonderland, Cry Baby, The Times They Are A-Changin’, The Wedding Singer, Sweet Charity, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Little Women, Brooklyn. Other credits: Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas, Ragtime (London), Rocky das Musical (Hamburg), How To Train Your Dragon, Walking with Dinosaurs, Mame, Opening Doors, Annie. Architectural projects include 54 Below, the Plaza Hotel (New York City), Lake of Dreams at Wynn (Las Vegas), Chicago Auditorium Theater, Big Bang Theatre at the American Museum of Natural History. Peter is also a producer and engineer for film, album and television projects. He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Broadway/Tours: If/Then, The Bridges of Madison County, All the Way, Kinky Boots, Newsies, Rock of Ages, Wicked, Evita, Porgy and Bess, Sister Act, Million Dollar Quartet. Off-Broadway: Atlantic, MCC, Signature. Regional: A.R.T., Dallas Theater Center, Goodman, La Jolla, Paper Mill, Signature. Film: Into the Woods, The Last Five Years,The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Friends with Kids, Margin Call, Sex and the City 1 & 2. TV: “Masters of Sex,” “The Sound of Music Live!,” “Smash,” “The Big C,” commercials. 

CHARLES G. LAPOINTE (Hair & Wig Design)
Broadway: Clybourne Park, Newsies, The Columnist, Magic/Bird, Bonnie and Clyde, The Mountaintop, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Merchant of Venice, Memphis, Henry IV, The Rivals, Cymbeline, Lombardi, Fences, Looped, Miracle Worker, Superior Donuts, 33 Variations, Guys and Dolls, In the Heights, Jersey Boys, The Color Purple, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Good Vibrations, The Apple Tree, A Raisin in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Lieutenant of Inishmoor, Radio Golf, Sight Unseen, High Fidelity, Xanadu, and Bring it On.

BRYAN CROOK (Co-Orchestrator/Additional Arranger)
is a producer, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist for Broadway, TV and films. He is an executive producer of Special Guest Music Productions. In addition to playing woodwinds for The Book of Mormon on Broadway, his recent work can be heard on Ice Age 4 (FOX), “Smash” (NBC), The 2011 Billboard Music Awards and The 2011 Emmy Awards. Other show credits include Rock of Ages, Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia!, West Side Story, Legally Blonde and Spelling Bee. His most important credits, however, are as a husband to Hilary and father to Liam, Ethan, and mystery baby #3.

ZANE MARK (Dance Arranger)
Broadway: Leap of Faith, All Shook Up, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Never Gonna Dance, The Full Monty, Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk (Tony and Grammy nomination) Bubblin’ Brown Sugar and The Wiz. Off-Broadway/Regional: Pippin, Frog Kiss, Crowns, The Brother Sister Plays, Ray Charles Live, Imagine Tap, Radiant Baby, George Wolfe’s Harlem Song (Audelco Award), Thunder Knocking On The Door, Insurrection, and Betsy Brown. Film: The Dancer Chronicles, Lackawanna Blues, Frances Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club.

JOSEPH JOUBERT (Music Director/Conductor)
Credits as orchestrator, arranger, conductor, producer, musical director include Broadway’s Nice Work If You Can Get It, Leap of Faith; Caroline or Change; The Color Purple; Billy Elliot. Off-Broadway: Violet, Three Mo’ Tenors; Three Mo’ Divas. TV: “We Shall Not Be Moved;” “Macy’s Fireworks 2010.” Film: Nights in Rodanthe. Recording: Fantasia’s “I’m Here;” Century Men’s Beautiful Star; Total Praise, Broadway Inspirational Voices’ Great Joy. Accompanist/arrangements include Patti Labelle, Ashford & Simpson, Diana Ross, George Benson, and Kathleen Battle (White House and Carnegie Hall). Grammy, Emmy and Drama Desk Award nominee.
Theatre:                  Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8DP
Dates:                    First booking period 11 February – 22 October 2016
Press Night:             8 March 2016 at 7pm
Performances:          Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Thursday & Saturday matinees at 3pm
First midweek matinee 18 February 2016


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By Tom Stratford

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