Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Chester Gregory, Allison Semmes, Jesse Nager & Jarran Muse Lead MOTOWN’s Broadway Return, July 12- Nov. 13

Chester Gregory (Photo: Ron T. Young)

Chester Gregory
(Photo: Ron T. Young)

Producers Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris and Berry Gordy just announced complete casting for the Broadway return of Motown the Musical, beginning performances Tuesday, July 12 at The Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street) for a strictly limited 18-week-only engagement through Sunday, November 13, 2016.

The smash hit production, featuring the music of the legendary Motown catalogue and a book by Berry Gordy, will star Chester Gregory (Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby and Sister Act) as Berry Gordy, Allison Semmes (Motown The MusicalThe Book of Mormon) as Diana Ross, Jesse Nager (Motown The Musical, Scandalous, Mary Poppins, Good Vibrations, Mamma Mia!) as Smokey Robinson, Jarran Muse (Motown The MusicalIrving Berlin’s White ChristmasDreamgirls) as Marvin Gaye, and J.J. Batteast and Leon Outlaw, Jr. as Young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson.

The 33-member ensemble cast will feature Nik Alexander, Erick Buckley, Chante Carmel, Chadaé, Lynorris Evans, Anissa Felix, Talya Groves, Rod Harrelson, Robert Hartwell, Rodney Earl Jackson, Jr., Trisha Jeffrey, Jamie LaVerdiere, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Loren Lott, Jarvis B. Manning, Jr., Krisha Marcano, Marq Moss, Rashad Naylor, Ramone Owens, Olivia Puckett, Nicholas Ryan, Jamison Scott, Joey Stone, Doug Storm, Martina Sykes, Nik Walker and Galen J. Williams.

Tickets for Motown the Musical are now on sale at or by calling Ticketmaster at 877-250-2929.

Motown The Musical concluded its original world premiere Broadway engagement on January 18, 2015 following 775 performances at The Lunt Fontanne Theatre. The original Broadway production grossed over $1 million a week regularly throughout its run and concluded as both a critical and audience favorite and a commercial success, having recouped its $18 million investment at the end of 2014.

The first National Tour opened to critical acclaim in Chicago in April 2014, grossing an impressive $20 million dollars during its standing room only sixteen-week run, and continues to break box office records and receive rave reviews playing major cities across the country.

The London production of Motown the Musical opened in February to critical acclaim and just extended the booking period into 2017 at The Shaftsbury Theatre.

In only three short years since its first performance, Motown the Musical has already, around the world, grossed over $300 million at the box office and sold 2.5 million tickets.

Charles Randolph-Wright. Photo by Lia Chang

Charles Randolph-Wright. Photo by Lia Chang

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown the Musical is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever. This exhilarating show charts Motown Founder Berry Gordy’s incredible journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more.

Featuring all the classics you love, Motown the Musical tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat.

Motown The Musical‘s creative team features choreography by Patricia Wilcox (A Night with Janis Joplin) and Warren Adams (Toy Story), scenic design by David Korins (Hamilton), costume design by Tony Award nominee ESosa (On Your Feet!) lighting design by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (An American in Paris), sound design by Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski (Something Rotten!) and projection design by Daniel Brodie (Aladdin).

Motown The Musical features arrangements and orchestrations by Tony and Grammy Award nominee Ethan Popp (School of Rock, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), who also serves as musical supervisor for the orchestra that reproduces the classic “Sound of Young America” for the stage, with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Tony Award nominee Bryan Crook (“Smash”), dance arrangements by Zane Mark (Holler if Ya Hear Me) and music direction by Joseph Joubert (The Color Purple).

The Original Broadway Cast Album of Motown the Musical, produced by Ethan Popp for Universal Music Enterprises, was nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

Chester Gregory (Berry Gordy) has appeared on Broadway in Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby and Sister Act. Gregory recently starred in the Goodman Theatre’s revival of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running. >He has toured nationally with Dreamgirls, Sister Act, as well as his one-man show The Eve of Jackie Wilson. Chester has received many awards including the Jeff Award and NAACP Theatre Award, and has been presented the key to the city of his hometown of Gary, Indiana and East Chicago. He has also been chosen as an Honorary State Representative and has received a Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater Columbia College in Chicago. Chester is also a songwriter and producer. @ChesterGregory and

ALLISON SEMMES (Diana Ross) Broadway: Motown The Musical (Florence Ballard & Diana Ross u/s), The Book of Mormon (Swing, Nabalungi u/s).Regional: DreamgirlsBubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide, Violet. Tour: The Color Purple (Squeak). Allison has sung with Erykah Badu & Stevie Wonder. Studied opera at UIUC, M.M. NYU-Steinhardt.Proud AEA member @ladysemmes &

JESSE NAGER (Smokey Robinson) is thrilled to continue his MOTOWN journey as Smokey having opened the show on Broadway as Eddie Kendricks/The Temptations. Broadway: SCANDALOUSMARY POPPINSGOOD VIBRATIONSMAMMA MIA!. Tours/Off-Broadway: XANADU/FAME ON 42ND ST. Jesse has sung with Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, and Patti Labelle. Jesse is the founder and Artistic Director of The Broadway Boys, a touring group that redefines the “musical theater” (

JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye)Broadway/NYC: Motown The MusicalIrving Berlin’s White ChristmasDreamgirls; International Tours: American IdiotDreamgirlsHairspray42nd Street. Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. Follow on Instagram: @JaeMuse or Twitter: @JarranMuse.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

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