“Motown the Musical,” by Joan Marcus
There’s no better place for live theater than New York, and the city’s Broadway community continues to mount impressive productions that thrill visitors and inspire the rest of the theater world. The 2012-2013 season has brought a combination of classic revivals and new musicals that have proven to be favorite shows for groups, and the 2013-2014 season looks to have a number of blockbusters in the making as well.
Here’s your guide to the latest crop of great shows on Broadway, as well as a preview of what is expected to open this fall and next spring.
Perhaps the most celebrated new show to open on Broadway this season was “Kinky Boots,” a boundary-pushing musical from an all-star creative team. Broadway veteran Harvey Fierstein wrote the book, and newcomer and ’80s pop sensation Cyndi Lauper wrote music and lyrics for the show.
“Kinky Boots” is based on a little-known 2005 comedy film of the same name that was, in turn, loosely based on the real-life story of a shoe company in England. The musical plot follows the young heir of an outdated shoe factory in a small English town as he searches for ways to keep his father’s struggling business afloat. A chance encounter with a drag performer in London prompts him to create a line of “kinky boots” built sturdy enough to suit men, causing an uproar in his conservative town.
Although the show avoids overt references to sexuality, the production’s focus on drag couture and culture may make it a dicey fit for some groups. It hasn’t scared off critics, though. “Kinky Boots” has won wide acclaim in the Broadway community and was nominated for 13 Tony awards, including the awards for best musical, best book and best score, as well as nods for several actors.
‘Motown the Musical’
Following in the tradition of jukebox musicals that have become popular on Broadway in recent years, “Motown the Musical” brought the soulful sounds of the 1960s to the stage in New York this spring. The show follows the journey of Berry Gordy, who transitioned from a featherweight boxing career to found Motown Records and introduce such legendary artists as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson to the American public.
The musical’s book was written by Gordy himself, and the show features 36 songs from the Motown era, including classics such as “War,” “What’s Going On?” “My Girl,” “Dancing in the Streets” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me.” The songs are woven through the story of Motown Records and the company’s role in helping to break down racial barriers in midcentury America.
“Motown the Musical” was nominated for four Tony awards, including best actress, best featured actor, best orchestrations and best sound design.