• Curtains
search
or call us on 0845 505 8500

BLOG : Motown: The Musical - The Ultimate Jukebox Musical

Friday 15 May 2015

By Harriet Hards

Jukebox musicals come in all shapes and sizes. Conceived in the 1980s they usually celebrate the music of a particular artist or genre. As someone not born until 1999, to me they are a great way of getting to experience some amazing pop music from the 50s to the 90s and beyond.

They range from the amazing Mamma Mia! which uses the music of Abba as background to a good narrative story, through We Will Rock You, which creates characters from the lyrics of Freddie Mercury and Queen and weaves them into a wacky, sci-fi type fable about saving the planet and on to Rock Of Ages which shoehorns soft rock classics into an irreverent romp. 

And then there are the biography musicals which tell the story of the artists themselves, with a bit of artistic licence of course. Buddy was probably the original jukebox musical and introduced a whole new generation to Buddy Holly’s music and his tragic death. More recently, Jersey Boys has been a massive hit with Frankie Valli’s falsetto echoing through theatres around the world. In London at the moment is Beautiful: The Carole King Musical which is a huge success, telling her story while entertaining the audience with well-loved classics.

You can see the attraction for impresarios, theatre owners, record companies and film-makers:

  • ready-made music which has already sold in huge volumes
  • big fan bases who will come to hear their favourite artist’s songs regardless of the quality of the story
  • a whole new generation of fans downloading tracks from back catalogues
  • the chance to cash in a second time by making the film of the musical

A cynic could say it’s a cheap way of bring dead horses back to life and flogging them all over again. Sniffy critics often say they aren’t “real” musicals and dismiss them as worthless.

But I take a different view. Musical theatre, in fact all theatre, is about entertainment and it’s impossible to argue that jukebox musicals don’t provide a great night out. Ok, they aren’t Shakespeare, but I’ve never left the theatre having had a bad night at a jukebox musical. The talent involved is far beyond that of a mere tribute band, this is the West End we are talking about! Katie Brayben, star of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, won an Olivier for her performance. You know that you are in for a night of high quality theatre no matter if the songs are original or not.

Which brings me to Motown: The Musical arriving in London next year fresh from Broadway.  I’ve not seen it yet, but I can’t wait. The story of how Berry Gordy built a music factory in Detroit is legendary. The fabulous catalogue of songs from writers like Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Holland, Dozier, Holland may be over 40 years old but they still get played all the time on the radio and on my dad’s iPod! I know if I had a jukebox, filling it with Motown records would guarantee a great party!

tags: Concerts, Hot Tickets, Jukebox, American Classic, Hen Night


By Harriet Hards

Harriet has spent all her sixteen years singing non-stop to musicals such as Mary Poppins, Les Mis and Cats. Her hobbies include writing on her blog, acting and making obscure references to West End lyrics, much to the annoyance of her friends and family.

Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.

Why book London theatre tickets with us?

  • Official London theatre tickets
  • Direct connections to London theatres
  • Full member of the Society Of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR)
  • Established 16 years
  • No transaction fees, no hidden charges
  • Free box office ticket collection or print at home tickets
  • Choose your seats from live interactive seating plans
  • Competitive pricing
  • Tickets you can trust
  • Secure purchase
  • Safe website
  • Over a million tickets sold to satisfied customers