In a Broadway.com video preview of Berry Gordy’s “Motown: the Musical” you can see several of the key personalities — Brandon Victor Dixon as Berry Gordy, Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross, Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson and Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye, talking and performing at a special press preview held several weeks ago in New York.
You only see Detroiter Jawan Jackson in the ensemble, but he plays bass voice Melvin Franklin of the Temptations.
Young Jibreel Mawry of Detroit can be seen in the clip below singing and dancing as a young Michael Jackson fronting the Jackson 5 — when I saw this press preview in New York several weeks ago, we only saw a handful of numbers, but Jibreel was one of the stand-outs. When I kidded him, along with Raymond Luke Jr., with whom he shares the roles of Jackson, young Berry Gordy and young Stevie Wonder, that they’d better not grow too much or they’ll be out of a job, we all laughed, but both kids could probably segue into doing Smokey or the adult Stevie, eventually.
Note Valisia LeKae’s period-perfect bouffant wig, which she wore along with a ’60s-inspired sheath dress. The male reporters didn’t feel comfortable asking her about her hair, but I found that Valisia was happy to talk about her personal collection of ’60s vintage wigs and clothing. The bouffant wig with artfully-placed spit curls that she wore, was from her own wide collection, which takes up a lot of space in her New York apartment. Valisia has studied photos and videos of Ross, and talks knowledgably about specific hair looks from say, the “TCB” TV special.
So she brings a sharp fashion sense, along with a great set of pipes and the right look, to the role of Diana.
With all the changes of costume and wigs in the show, perhaps she needs a wig assistant?
“Thank you! Tell the producers!” she quipped.