We review – Motown the Musical

Superb set changes and an endless stream of Motown hits made for a fast paced sing-a-show at the Bristol Hippodrome

Sophie St Leger reviews for The Interchange…

From the moment this show opens there’s one hit after another blasting some of the most memorable songs of the era loud, fast and proud. 

Highlights included the stand-out solo performances, lightning speed set changes and the songs that, it appeared, every member of the audience was singing along to.

However, as a woman in her twenties, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the songs, I felt like I’d missed a trick by not doing my research. I knew little of the history of Motown, but believed that because I knew so many of the songs from the likes of Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5, that I could follow the rest.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. There was an undoubtably impressive number of hits in the musical – 66 in total. Yet, sometimes the dialogue in between each of the songs made little sense to me, as someone with a vague understanding of the era. I often found it difficult to link the dialogue to the song. 

That’s not to say it detracted from my overall enjoyment of the show. Once I switched my expectations from a show about the history of Motown, to a collection of hits sang by outstanding showmen and women, including young children, I really enjoyed the performances. 

I also believe that my age was a factor, as older members of the audience were laughing and singing, clearly following the show with my greater clarity than I had. 

During key moments, what I presume was real footage from the time, was shown behind the performers, adding detail to the historical narrative. 

The set designers must be given full kudos for nothing short of miracle, super speedy set changes. I spent at least 20 minutes trying to figure out how on earth they were seamlessly moving from one backdrop to the next, before I spotted a projector overhead. 

Due to the pace and the huge cast line up, it was difficult to single a particular performer out as the star of the show. It must be said that the solo performances overall were nothing short of spectacular. 

If you’re after a night out of sing-a-long hits, from an era of Motown greatness, you’ll love this show – but do your research if you’re looking for a historical overview. 

You can see Motown The Musical at the Bristol Hippodrome until February 2. 

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