One of the most enjoyable things on Broadway this season is Motown The Musical which does more than just offer a revue of the famous hits from another era. In addition to offering a host of new songs to go alongside the nostalgia, the show gives a wonderful glimpse into the ups and downs of Berry Gordy's quest to make this "black music" transcend and be accepted by audiences of all races, ages, and locations. One of the many standouts in the show is Saycon Sengbloh, who plays Martha Reeves and sings the signature song "Dancing in the Street." Sengbloh responded to a few of my questions via email:
What initially drew you to this show? Are you a fan of Motown music?
Sengbloh: From my audition for the first reading of the script, I knew I wanted to be a part of this show! I've been a Motown fan since I was a kid, I love everyone from the Four Tops to the Jackson Five.
How did you enjoy working with Berry Gordy on this production? Did his input and recollection of real-life events help frame anything for you?
Sengbloh: It was simply brilliant to have the man who lived it in our midst. Often we would research stories and ask him about the details and he would tell us some of the behind-the-scenes details. There were too many stories to name.
This show isn't just about music, it covers an important period of modern history. How do you think the music shaped the era?
Sengbloh: This music is sort of like a soundtrack to all of our lives. Many people don't realize that Martin Luther King was a Motown recording artist; his speeches were recorded for Motown. And people bought those records to help support the civil rights movement.
You play a number of roles in this incredibly choreographed, busy, and plotted-out production. Was it hard to learn the many roles and songs, and to keep up?
Sengbloh: It wasn't hard at all to learn the show - so much of this music is inside of me. I've been hearing it since I was a child. It can be difficult with any Broadway schedule with there being eight shows per week. But having this type of opportunity is sort of once in a lifetime, so you do anything to make it work, and try to take care of yourself and prepare the other aspects of your life and career to keep up with the show and keep up with personal projects too!
Are there any lessons you hope the audience takes away from the story?
Sengbloh: I just want them to be happy and enjoy themselves and take away the feeling of the memories they had each time they heard a song they loved and recognize that there is a lot of hard work wrapped up into building this type of company. Music heals!