Motown’s “Hitsville, USA” Comes to Life at Broward Center
By Skip Sheffield
The “Jukebox Musical,” “Motown,” opens Tuesday, Feb. 24 and runs through March 8 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts. True to its name there are more than 40 songs covered in rapid succession in a parade of favorite hits from Berry Gordy Junior’s “hit factory” in Detroit.
Label founder, record producer and songwriter Berry Gordy is played by Clifton Oliver. Other Motown stars depicted are Alison Semmes as Diana Ross; Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye; Patrice Covington as Martha Reeves; Reed L. Shannon as Michael Jackson, Leon Outlaw as Stevie Wonder and my personal favorite, Smokey Robinson as portrayed by Jesse Nager.
“Some of the songs are only short little clips,” says Nager from a tour stop in snowy Boston. “That’s how we can fit in so many hits. I started out playing Eddie Kendricks on Broadway, then for the national tour I got moved up to Smokey. I hope I do him justice.”
Nager is a graduate of New York’s famed La Guardia School of the Performing Arts. While still in high school he performed with the likes of Mariah Carey, Shania Twain and Patti LaBelle. He is the founder of touring group the Broadway Boys.
“The last time I was in Fort Lauderdale was four or five years ago with the Broadway Boys,” he remembers. “We have a roster of about 30 performers, so the Broadway Boys can still perform when I am on tour.”
After being snowbound in Boston, Nager is grateful to be heading south.
“It’s a wonderful show and a wonderful cast- at least I think so and hope so,” he says. “What a perfect time to be returning to Fort Lauderdale. We are all ready.”
Tickets start at $34.75. Call TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or go to www.browardcenter.org.