×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berry Gordy Brings His ‘Motown’ to Broadway

Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson hold court on Great White Way

Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson were holding court there on Row L of the Lunt-Fontanne Theater as dozens of iPhones clicked away to record the moment. Not being photographed but standing nearby were Bono, Sting, David Geffen, Jane Fonda, Evander Holyfield, Jesse Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee (in orange pork pie hat and matching sweater) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (in black stocking cap and matching hoodie). And that was just the intermission at the April 14 Broadway opening of the new musical “Motown”!

Already the crowd was feeling celebratory since complimentary Veuve Clicquot had been made available in plastic zippy cups before the curtain even went up.

When that curtain came down three hours later, the man of the hour joined the cast on stage as fellow producer Kevin McCollum announced, “Will the real Berry Gordy please stand up!” Then McCollum quickly added, “Diana Ross is in the house” as she entered stage left. Then came Robinson and Gladys Knight and Mary Wells and Mary Wilson and finally Wonder, who was literally hoisted up by ushers from the audience to the stage as opening nighters went nuts.

That ovation went on and on until McCollum finally shouted out, “I’m clearly the only one worried about overtime!”

But Gordy got the last word, “I just want to thank you all for sharing my dream!”

Motown” is the new Broadway tuner that the Gotham press has virtually ignored (the New York Times) or poo-poohed (the New York Post) as a vanity project. But Gordy and company are licking those wounds all the way to the bank since the musical now enjoys a hefty $16 million-plus advance after selling out at over $1 million a session for the last four weeks (a B.O. feat that is unprecedented for a show opening cold in Gotham sans stars in the cast).

At the Roseland afterparty, helmer Charles Randolph-Wright had to admit he’s been a little surprised by the show’s enormous B.O. prowess. Only Gordy seems to have taken that success totally in stride. “Never underestimate the power of the underestimated,” he told his director.

More Scene

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Anthony Anderson LADF

    Why Anthony Anderson and Billie Jean King are Giving Back with the Dodgers Foundation

    Celebrities and athletes came together at the Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala to celebrate the team’s commitment to supporting youth and to catch a glimpse of the event’s headliner: Bruno Mars. Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were honored at the fifth annual event, which raised over $3 million for programs benefiting Los Angeles youth. [...]

  • Shia LaBeouf poses at the premiere

    Shia LaBeouf to Host Birthday Fundraiser for Slauson Rec. Theater Company

    Shia LaBeouf is celebrating his 33rd birthday by giving back. The actor, who turned 33 on June 11, will host a fundraising concert later this month for the Slauson Rec Theater Company, a 10-month-old free performing arts program he co-founded in downtown Los Angeles. The night will also include a preview of the Slauson Rec [...]

  • Awkwafina, Lulu Wang Celebrate New York

    Awkwafina Wants 'The Farewell' to Break Boundaries of Cultural Differences

    Family dysfunction is universal despite cultural differences. That’s what writer and director Lulu Wang wants audiences to take away from her film “The Farewell” starring Awkwafina. “This movie will teach us universality out of specificity. There’s something that we can all kind of relate to across cultures. There’s something we still have to learn about [...]

  • Elizabeth Debicki

    Elizabeth Debicki Talks About Being Supported by Other Women in Hollywood

    Elizabeth Debicki is looking to the future — which makes sense, since she was named Women in Film and Max Mara’s “Face of the Future” for 2019. “No pressure,” Debicki laughed when Variety asked the actress about the honor on the red carpet. “It means a great deal. I have always deeply respected the work [...]

  • Carla Gugino Jett

    How Carla Gugino Is Redefining the Anti-Hero in Cinemax's Crime Drama 'Jett'

    “This is like no character I’ve ever played,” Carla Gugino told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of Cinemax’s “Jett” on Tuesday night. “I think television is filled with great roles for women, which is such a godsend these days. But the anti-hero — there’s still a double standard there.” In the new series, Gugino [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content