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NEW YORK — No stranger to discovering raw musical talent, Berry Gordy has launched a nationwide video search for an African-American performer, aged 8-11, to play the multiple roles of the young Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Gordy himself in the upcoming Broadway production, Motown: The Musical.
The show’s producers, Kevin McCollum, Sony Music Entertainment chairman and CEO Doug Morris and Gordy announced the casting strategy on Tuesday, as the audition website went live.
“I’m not looking for imitators,” says Gordy on the site. “What I’m looking for is people that are smart and can be themselves in the role. He has to be extremely talented, plus he has to give me the same chills that I got when I saw Michael Jackson in the first place.”
Scheduled to open on Broadway in spring 2013 at a Nederlander theater to be announced, the show is written by Gordy, with songs lifted from the extensive Motown catalogue, including hits from Jackson, Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations.
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, the biomusical traces Gordy’s story as he assembled a phenomenal roster of African-American talent and built the Detroit music empire that crossed over to mainstream international success.
Jackson was 10 years old when Gordy signed The Jackson 5 in 1968, while Little Stevie Wonder, as he was then known, recorded his first song for Tamla Motown in 1961 at age 11.
The high tenor singing voice and dance moves of the young Jackson clearly are key requisites in the search for the multi-role performer. In addition to Jackson and Wonder, the successful recruit will also play Gordy as a middle-class kid in 1930s Detroit, who was part dreamer and part hustler.
The Broadway show’s audition website invites YouTube submissions of a choice of three Jackson 5 hits: “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There” and “Who’s Loving You.”
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