"Motown: The Musical" -- the new Broadway jukebox musical that resurrects the Temptations, the Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas and many more -- opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York on Sunday.
The production, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, has proven to be a popular box-office draw even in preview performances, raking in more than $1 million in its first week. In light of such impressive grosses -- the show seems destined to tour -- does it really matter what the critics think?
The show is based on the book "To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown" by Berry Gordy Jr., who adapted his own work for the stage and is also a character in the show, played by actor Brandon Victor Dixon. The ensemble cast channels some of Motown's most successful artists, performing close to 60 songs in the course of the evening.
The critics have weighed in with their opinions, which are less than glowing.
Charles Isherwood of the New York Times described the show as a "dramatically slapdash but musically vibrant trip back to the glory days of Detroit." He praised the performers -- "a blazing cast of gifted singers impersonating this crowded pantheon of pop-chart immortals."
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney wrote that " there’s no denying the power and energy of the show’s arsenal of killer tunes." But the show's simplistic plot "makes 'Jersey Boys' look like Eugene O’Neill."
Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the show "has no clear point of view, no rich storytelling and nowhere near enough Detroit." There are "way too many" songs, though that means that "everyone gets to hear at least part of their favorites."
The Associated Press' Mark Kennedy described the production as "unbalanced," as if a "jukebox went completely haywire." With close to 60 tunes, "it's a challenge to find logical places" to situate them in the plot.
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