Playing a famous icon on Broadway is a challenge—just ask Rob McClure (Chaplin), John Lloyd Young (Jersey Boys) or Elena Roger (Evita). Motown: The Musical star Brandon Victor Dixon will have it especially tough when he stars as legendary record producer Berry Gordy Jr., under the tutelage of Gordy himself! Not only was the new musical conceived by Gordy, he also wrote the book as well as many of the classic hits from the Motown catalogue that will appear in the show.
“It’s both infuriating and the best thing in the world,” Dixon told Broadway.com of Gordy’s constant presence during the show's development. “He’s the ultimate collaborator—he runs everything and he’s writing it, but with Berry, the best idea wins. That’s how he made records, that’s how he built Motown and that’s the same way we’re doing the show.”
Dixon, who will play the mogul during the years he rose from competing as a featherweight boxer to Motown honcho, is thrilled the production will tell the stories behind so many famous songs. “We get to see Berry’s relationships with Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5, and really see how the business was built.” Most of all, Dixon is excited to portray the man who made it all happen. “Motown was the biggest and the best record company because they had Berry Gordy,” he said. “He was the difference maker, so that’s what I’m looking forward to showing everyone.”
The Color Purple and Rent alum, who will share the stage with Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross, listens to Motown music “constantly” these days. “My favorite song is one that I’ll sing—it’s ‘To Be Loved,’” Dixon revealed. “Berry wrote it for Jackie Wilson, and it’s really the heart of our show. It’s what life is about, what music is about, and what Motown is about.”
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown begins performances March 11, 2013, at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
Watch Jackie Wilson perform "To Be Loved," as well as hits "Lonely Teardrops" and "Alone at Last," on The Ed Sullivan Show, by clicking below!