Interview with Motown's Lucy St Louis
| By Harrison Fuller
Lucy St Louis is bringing the sound of the sixties to the stage at the Shaftesbury Theatre. She is starring as Diana Ross in the smash hit show Motown the Musical.
Motown the Musical is a high energy, vibrant show. How do you sustain that level of energy for 8 shows a week?
To sustain the high level of energy required for the show requires a lot of self-discipline. I rely on a well-balanced diet, I also work out a lot which helps maintain my stamina and keeps me focused but the most important thing to me is rest. Understanding when your body needs to relax and shut down is key. But however tired you are and no matter what kind of day you have had, it's the love, fun and company spirit that we have in the Shaftesbury Theatre that gets us through an 8 show week. As a company, we feed off each other’s energy and with the electricity of the audience it takes it to another level of excitement!
You are both playing living legends. What challenges do you face trying to portray a real person as opposed to creating a fictional character?
For me personally, it is a huge challenge portraying someone so iconic as everyone has their own memories of Diana and the distinctive sound that she made!
I do all I can to create my own essence of Miss Ross by doing so much research, watching her videos and analysing her vocals. I studied each and every nuance then try to shape my own body and voice on what I have learnt. It’s very hard trying to move and sing like someone else anyway, let alone 8 times a week, so I had to build up lots of stamina and new muscles vocally and physically.
Berry Gordy is also one of the producers on the show. How was it having him in the rehearsal room?
We are blessed with having such an amazing team of creatives around us every day to guide us. Having Mr Gordy so heavily involved in the creation of Motown the musical was priceless. He helped every single cast member finesse their performances and empowered us with knowledge and encouragement to have confidence in the choices we made. So much hard work had been done both in the build-up to and during the rehearsal process, the prep, the research, we had given blood sweat and tears. Now we just needed to live it, believe it and as Mr Gordy so often reminds us: "tell the truth of the story!"
Lucy, you play the iconic Diana Ross. How did you prepare?
I keep saying the word research and preparation because they are such vital ingredients.
I had to do so much of it as part of my process in order to step into the massive shoes of Diana Ross. Listening to every note she spoke and sang, studying how she moved and conducted herself. I pretty my lived and breathed her in rehearsals to really find everything I could with the role. It was truly the best thing having Mr Gordy there instilling his knowledge and confidence in my work.
You were also part of the cast of the incredibly successful Beautiful. Do you think this sound, this music is having a renaissance?
I was very lucky to be a part of ‘Beautiful’ along with an incredible company of people. There are similarities in the sound as both shows go through the same eras. I think what’s special with Motown and Beautiful is that the music is timeless! It has and always will be adored, bring back a memory in people's lives and will forever be passed down generation to generation.
Have you had any of the Stars of Motown pay a visit to the show and what was their reaction?
We have been very fortunate enough to have had the support of so many incredible Motown icons such as Smokey Robinson, who was there on our press night, also Martha Reeves, Duke Fakir (who was in the original four tops) and Tito and Jackie Jackson (original members of Jackson 5). The love and support they give us is amazing. We are entrusted to tell their story and recreate historic events in music history to a live audience every night! It's a huge responsibility but one that we all cherish!
Including your own songs, what is your favourite track in the show and why?
There are so many amazing songs in the show that I could pick to be my favourite but I guess the song I love and hold closest to my heart is ‘Your all I need to get by’. This is the duet that I sing with Cedric who plays Berry Gordy. The song is so beautiful and has such a special meaning for both Cedric and I as it was the song we had to sing together in our audition which also sealed our chemistry as Diana and Berry.
If you could sum up the show in just five words, what would they be?
Motown the Musical tickets are available now through January 2019.