Berry Gordy talks ‘Motown Musical': ‘I cried when Diana Ross left me’

Get ready because the debut for  Motown: The Musical is just weeks away.

The show, which boasts the largest ensemble of any show currently on Broadway (over 35 performers and nineteen musicians), is scheduled to open March 11 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York City.

During a press event for Motown, Berry Gordy and the show’s cast members Valisa LeKae (Diana Ross), and Charl Brown (Smokey Robinson), talked about what theatergoers can expect from the show.

The musical brings to life the famous tunes of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Michael Jackson, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and more, but but doesn’t shy away from revealing some of the drama within the Motown family.

Gordy told theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon the hardest part in bringing Motown to the stage, was putting the story on paper.

“The hard part was writing it in the first place. When Diana left me for $20 million I was crying inside. I was crying. It was like horrible for me,” the 83-year-old founder of Motown admitted. “But I had to do what was best for her, because I promised her when we had our love affair that I wanted her to be the biggest star in the world, and would never let our relationship interfere with that.”

LeKae, who effortlessly croons out Ross’ version of “You’re All I Need To Get By” during the show, says that she hopes to humanize the legendary diva.

“I want people to know that she’s human. I think there’s a little bit of perfectionism in her because she wants to give her crowd what they came here for,” LeKae said. “She’s probably had moments where she gets upset, and I get that. She gets upset in the act. It’s a natural response to life at times. So I think in order to embody this woman you have to see the colors of who she is.”

The show’s producer Kevin McCollum believes that Motown: The Musical will resonate well with audiences, and when asked if he can envision the show being turned into a major motion picture, he said, “yes, absolutely.”

“Berry started in clubs recording songs and then he became a record executive. Then he took the company and knew that film was the next thing and he made two of the most important films, especially for African Americans. It was one of the first times when African Americans could take a look at themselves on the big screen and say, ‘we’re glamorous.’ So the idea of a movie after the musical, it absolutely makes sense.”

Broadway previews for Motown: The Musical  begin on March 11. Tickets to the show are on sale now.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC