Jarran Muse: Motown the Musical, Berry, and Marvin

*Headline photo: Courtesy of Motown the Musical

An Exclusive Community Voices Interview by Sonya Bernard-Hollins

Motown the Musical come to Miller Auditorium May 9-14, 2017. For more information, visit: www.milleauditorium.com.

*To attend the May 11th show to support the Merze Tate Explorers’ youth study abroad program, visit: www.millerauditorium.com/MTE.

Motown 300x250KALAMAZOO (MICH.)-When Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from the family fund to invest in a record company, he had no idea what would happen. All he knew was—sink or swim, he had a set time to pay the family back. What he didn’t know, was that his tenacity to take an African-American owned company, focused on African-American talent, would make him a millionaire and take him and his artist around the world. Their music became the soundtrack to the 1960s.

Gordy, a man with the power to make—or take dreams—became a legend in his own time. And, as with any legend, scandal, intrigue, deception, and greed are not far behind. Authors of such books as Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power, and The Untold Story: Berry, Me, and Motown, gave those in the Motown family, a way to tell it their way.

Motown CHESTER GREGORY (Berry Gordy) Chester is thrilled and honored to return in the role of Berry Gordy, after portraying him last summer on Broadway in Motown The Musical! Broadway credits include Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby and Sister Act. He has toured nationally with several shows including Dreamgirls and his one-man show The Eve of Jackie Wilson. Chester has received many awards including the NAACP Theatre Award, and has been presented the key to the city of his hometown of Gary, Indiana and East Chicago. READ MORE ∨ ALLISON SEMMES (Diana Ross) Thrilled to be traveling the nation with this show! Chicago Native. B.M. Opera at UIUC, M.M. from NYU-Steinhardt. Broadway credits: Motown The Musical (Florence Ballard) and The Book of Mormon (Nabalungi u/s, Swing). Other credits include The Color Purple National Tour, Dreamgirls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide. Allison is a recipient of the BroadwayWorld Chicago award for Best Female Lead, and an NAACP Theatre Award nomination for READ MORE ∨ JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye) A native Jersey boy couldn’t be happier living his dream. God is good y’all. Broadway/N.Y.C.: Motown The Musical, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Dreamgirls. Tours: American Idiot, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, 42nd Street. Check jarranmuse.com for the complete resume. “Thank you to Mr. Gordy, Charles and Telsey for this new opportunity to bring Marvin to stage every night; to the Motown legends that lived the story we are telling; to KMR for representing me and to my family and friends for being there. I LOVE READ MORE ∨ DAVID KAVERMAN (Smokey Robinson) is honored to make his Equity and National Tour debuts with Motown! Native of Ohio. Favorite credits (Regional): Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Carousel, Chicago, Godspell, & Disney Cruise Line. Proud graduate of Otterbein University (BM) & the Manhattan School of Music (MM). Eternal thanks to Mr. Gordy & Wojcik|Seay Casting. Shout out to The Mine, his superMama, Manda, and invaluable f
JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye)- Photos Courtesy of Motown the Musical

 

However, Gordy penned his own work, Berry Gordy: To Be Loved. Of that book, he said, “The whole purpose of writing a book is to be understood—if other people write about you, they try to guess why you did things, or they hear things from other people.”

In 2013 Gordy took his book to a new level; creating a musical stage production called, “Motown the Musical.” This production debuted on Broadway to sold-out crowds. The critically acclaimed production will come to Miller Auditorium May 9-14, 2017. (www.millerauditorium.com).

Jarren Muse was originally cast as a male “swing” (a person who trains as alternate for various roles) in the Broadway production. He came into the production with preconceived notions of Gordy, a music mogul who did whatever it took to succeed in the cutthroat music industry.

“I came into this job thinking of the things I’d heard about Gordy; believing, ‘Oh, Mr. Gordy was crook.’ I came to find out that people say one thing (rumors) and run with it. I’ve learned, by being a part of this show, that a lot of (misinformation) goes on in life, and often is a separation of truth and fact.

“Mr. Gordy has been a part of the (production) process since the beginning. He was there during the entire rehearsal l process,” said Muse, who soon was casts as the play’s Marvin Gaye.

Gaye was best known for such hits as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, and “Sexual Healing”. His father tragically killed him on April 1, 1984, after years of drug use that crippled his life and career.

Muse said having Gordy on set to share the true stories behind some of the scenes in the play (and the actor’s real lives), helped the actors really get a feel for how to play their roles. More importantly, Gordy further encouraged Muse personally.

“Mr. Gordy told me he ‘saw Marvin in my eyes,’ and as an artist, I had similar personalities and nuances as Gaye (who was once married to Gordy’s sister Anna). It was cool to learn about the side (of the artists) you don’t see in the media. To have him tell his story and leave his legacy… I have so much respect for Berry Gordy.”

Muse, originally from New Jersey, said it was an honor to meet Motown artists during the special Motown Reunion show they did on Broadway in 2013. He said he had an opportunity to meet Gaye’s third wife and other family members.

“That was a crazy experience, Muse said. “They were so happy for how I played the role; they congratulated me and thanked me for doing such a great job.

“I can honestly say, having this role has stretched me as an artist and made me understand things about the artistry.”

Motown CHESTER GREGORY (Berry Gordy) Chester is thrilled and honored to return in the role of Berry Gordy, after portraying him last summer on Broadway in Motown The Musical! Broadway credits include Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby and Sister Act. He has toured nationally with several shows including Dreamgirls and his one-man show The Eve of Jackie Wilson. Chester has received many awards including the NAACP Theatre Award, and has been presented the key to the city of his hometown of Gary, Indiana and East Chicago. READ MORE ∨ ALLISON SEMMES (Diana Ross) Thrilled to be traveling the nation with this show! Chicago Native. B.M. Opera at UIUC, M.M. from NYU-Steinhardt. Broadway credits: Motown The Musical (Florence Ballard) and The Book of Mormon (Nabalungi u/s, Swing). Other credits include The Color Purple National Tour, Dreamgirls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide. Allison is a recipient of the BroadwayWorld Chicago award for Best Female Lead, and an NAACP Theatre Award nomination for READ MORE ∨ JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye) A native Jersey boy couldn’t be happier living his dream. God is good y’all. Broadway/N.Y.C.: Motown The Musical, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Dreamgirls. Tours: American Idiot, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, 42nd Street. Check jarranmuse.com for the complete resume. “Thank you to Mr. Gordy, Charles and Telsey for this new opportunity to bring Marvin to stage every night; to the Motown legends that lived the story we are telling; to KMR for representing me and to my family and friends for being there. I LOVE READ MORE ∨ DAVID KAVERMAN (Smokey Robinson) is honored to make his Equity and National Tour debuts with Motown! Native of Ohio. Favorite credits (Regional): Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Carousel, Chicago, Godspell, & Disney Cruise Line. Proud graduate of Otterbein University (BM) & the Manhattan School of Music (MM). Eternal thanks to Mr. Gordy & Wojcik|Seay Casting. Shout out to The Mine, his superMama, Manda, and invaluable f
Photos Courtesy of Motown the Musical
CHESTER GREGORY (Berry Gordy)

Thom Cooper, senior marketing specialist at Miller, is excited to have this musical grace their stage.

“Miller is so pleased to bring such a wonderful show to Kalamazoo. With its deep Michigan roots, it is a rich story that entertains from beginning to end,” Cooper said.

Muse encourages audiences to see Motown the Musical; particularly the Kalamazoo audience who is just two hours from Detroit’s Motown Museum.

“Coming to see Motown the Musical is not only a night out on the town,” Muse said, “it’s history that brought everyone together at a time of segregation and violence in the 1960s. The Motown music, despite all that was going on at the time, really put people in a ‘good place.’ It continues to do that today.”

 

Sonya Bernard-Hollins

Administrative account for the Community Voices website.

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