Motown the Musical at Popejoy
“Motown The Musical” will have eight performances at Popejoy Hall, Center for the Arts, UNM campus. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, 8 p.m. Friday, March 3, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5. For tickets visit www.unmtickets.com or call 925-5858 or at box offices in the UNM Bookstore, in The Pit or in the Center of the Arts. For group orders of 20 or more call 344-1779 or email email@example.com
By David Steinberg
Like millions of Americans, Elijah Ahmad Lewis(cq) grew up with the music of Motown.
Unlike those same millions Americans, Lewis has had a rare opportunity – to sing those Motown hits of the 1960s and ‘70s on stage.
Lewis is a featured member of the ensemble in “Motown the Musical.” The second national tour of the production will be at Popejoy Hall for eight performances from Tuesday, Feb. 28 through March 5.
In the show, one of his roles is Stevie Wonder, singing “Signed, Sealed and Delivered.”
“I sing another Stevie Wonder number that I close the show with but you don’t want to give it away,” Lewis said in a phone interview.
“Stevie Wonder is one of my all-time favorite artists and to be playing him is such an honor.”
Lewis is on stage for much of the show, also playing Jackie Wilson, Jackie Jackson of the Jackson Five, a member of the Four Tops and The Miracles. Lewis is in all of the big dance numbers.
Lewis was an ensemble member in the jukebox musical’s first national tour and briefly performed in the show on Broadway. It ran on Broadway from March 2013 to January 2015.
“Motown The Musical” tells the story of record producer Berry Gordy who founded and ran Motown Records, wrote some of the hit songs and discovered and launched the careers of the singers he signed. Besides those whom Lewis portrays Gordy ignited the careers of The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Michael Jackson.
The musical is a stage adaptation of Gordy’s autobiography “To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown.” Gordy co-produced the musical.
“The amazing thing about this story is that it’s a true story,” Lewis said.
“Gordy has given us valid and insightful information about these artists. Just to hear the truth from the guy who created it all… if you stay true to your artistry and to the information given, the audience will receive it truthfully. And we tell the story truthfully every night.”
Raised in New Jersey and New York, Lewis comes from an entertainment family. An uncle was the lead singer of Kool and the Gang. His family wrote the story for the off-Broadway gospel musical “Mama I Want to Sing”; Lewis performed in it. And he was also in the off-Broadway musical “Sing Harlem Sing!”
Lewis said that being in the ensemble is like being in a family he’s had the privilege of being part of for more than three years.
“I do love this music and it’s a great story, a story that should be told. Motown was a company and a movement that created styles and sounds that allowed it to be outside the box in being creative, which carries over today,” Lewis said.
“Motown music is the soundtrack of our lives.”
Featured photo: The Supremes. MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2017.