Meet the Cast of Motown The Musical: Clifton Oliver

Motown the Musical CLIFTON OLIVER (Berry Gordy) Clifton Oliver is honored to be a part of the Motown family. Broadway: The Lion King (Simba), In The Heights (Benny opposite Jordin Sparks), Wicked (Fiyero). Nat'l Tours: The Lion King (Simba), Rent (Benny & Collins), Ragtime (Ensemble). Regional: Pal Joey (Arkansas Rep.), Kinky Boots (Lola's standby for Bill Porter), West Coast Tour of The Scottsboro Boys (Charlie/Victoria), Smokey Joe?s Cafe (Victor), Godspell (Judas) MUNY. Television: "Law and READ MORE ? ALLISON SEMES (Diana Ross) Chicago native. B.M. Opera at UIUC, M.M. from NYU-Steinhardt.  Broadway credits: Motown the Musical, Florence Ballard & The Book of Mormon, Nabalungi U/S, Swing. Other credits include: The Color Purple National Tour, Dreamgirls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide. I want to thank you Bethany and everyone at Telsey, Renee, my CCC/ KACC/ GIAME families, Momma & Poppa Bear, Emile, QVD, and my friends for the unconditional love and support! READ MORE ? NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER (Smokey Robinson) Born in Bermuda and raised in Boston, MA. Studied at both The Boston Conservatory and The Juilliard  School. 1st National Tour: In The Heights. Off-Broadway: Rent, Hurt Village. Thank you family, friends and SMS for your lurve and support. JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye) A native Jersey boy couldn't be happier living his dream.  God is good yall. Broadway/NYC: Motown The Musical, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Dreamgirls; International Tours: American Idiot, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, 42nd Street. Regional Theater: Marriott Lincolnshire, Portland Center Stage (Will Parker in Oklahoma!), Goodspeed, Fulton Opera Houses, Pittsburgh CLO.  Thank you to Mr. GORDY, Charles, and Telsey for this new opportunity to bring Marvin to stage READ MORE ? ERICK BUCKLEY (Ensemble) Broadway/National Tours: Valjean in Les Miserables, Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, Dave in The Full Monty, Piangi in The Phantom of the Opera, Gangster #1 Kiss Me, Kate, Roger in Grease. Favorite roles; Husband to Robin, Dad to Miranda. PATRICE COVINGTON (Ensemble) The Book of Mormon, Dreamgirls (Effie), Ain?t Misbehavin? (Armelia).  Find her self-titled original album & the Grammy nominated Ain't Misbehavin on iTunes.  Numerous National Voiceovers. Instagram: @Sangtrice.  ?Don?t be a star?be a galaxy!? JAMARICE DAUGHTRY (Ensemble) From Bartow, Florida, Bethune Cookman Univesity Alum. Member of the Stellar Award Winning Group ?Group Therapy.?  Winner of the ?Grady Rayam Prize in Negro Spirituals.? Thank you to my mom Sharon for always supporting me! ASHLEY TAMAR DAVIS (Ensemble) Tours: Prince. Theatre: Perry Productions. TV: "SNL," "BRIT Awards." Grammy-nominated; co-wrote "Beautiful, Loved, and Blessed." Graduate of USC School of Music. Thanks to God, family, friends!  LYNORRIS EVANS (Ensemble) Lynorris is thrilled to join the National Tour of Motown the Musical. Broadway: Leap of Faith. Tours: Flashdance, Memphis. Cirque Du Soleil: Viva Elvis. BFA: Fordham University. Thanks to my supportive family and friends.  MELANIE EVANS (Ensemble) National/International: Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Junie B Jones, Disney's Believe (original cast). New York Workshop: Amazing Grace. Regional: Sarah/Ragtime, and Nehebka/AIDA. AMDA graduate. Thank you to The Mine and Telsey casting!     DEVON GOFFMAN (Swing) Hometown: BUFFALO, NY! Tours: Jersey Boys, Grease (w/ Frankie Avalon), Titanic, Buddy.  Film: Michael & Javier. Thank you Bethany, everyone at Telsey & Judy Boals. Love to my family!  In loving memory of Jack Greenan. JENNIE HARNEY (Swing) Brooklyn Baby! Broadway: Broadway Rising Stars (featured). National: We The People (Dawn). Regional: Dreamgirls (Deena), Thunder Knocking On the Door (Glory), Beehive (Jasmine), Pearl (Pearl Bailey) AUDELCO Nominee. Thanks to God, Mom & Dad! LATRISA A. HARPER (Swing) Fort Pierce, Fl. Ailey II. Broadway: The Color Purple, The Lion King.  Broadway workshop: Beehive with Debbie Allen. A.R.T: Witness Uganda. Love to family and Susan Batson Studios. ROD HARRELSON (Swing) Excited to be a part of the Motown Tour! Originally from Greensboro, NC, began dancing at UNC-Chapel Hill. Love and thanks to God and family. This one's for Cynthia. ROBERT HARTWELL (Ensemble) Proud magna cum laude University of Michigan.  Broadway: Memphis (Wailin' Joe), Nice Work (Astaire Award nominee), Cinderella. Tours: Dreamgirls. Host and Interior Designer of web series "Broadway Quick Change". Jeremiah 29:11.  As always, for Nana. RODNEY EARL JACKSON, JR. (Ensemble) So honored to be part of a theatrical experience surrounded by love. Broadway/Tour(s): Book of Mormon. Born/raised in the heart of San Francisco where he founded the Bay Area Theatre Company (BATCo). CMU Drama BFA. TRISHA JEFFREY (Ensemble) 2013 Broadway World Chicago Best Actress for ?Celie? in The Color Purple! Broadway: Little Shop Of Horrors; All Shook Up; Rent. Tour: Sister Act; Rent.  Full bio: @trishajeffrey. Love & gratitude. GRASAN KINGSBERRY (Ensemble) A Juilliard alumnus, Grasan joins this company directly from the Broadway production of Motown. Broadway: Nice Work?, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Color Purple, Aida. Tour: Dreamgirls (u/s Curtis). Film/TV: I Am Legend, ?Smash,? ?All My Children.? ELIJAH AHMAD LEWIS (Ensemble) Off-Broadway: Mama I Want To Sing (Minister Of Music), Sing Harlem Sing, We Are.  Regional: Once On This Island (Papa Ge), Guys and Dolls (Nathan Detroit).  Film: Mama I Want To Sing, America (Rosie O?Donnell).  Would like to thank my family and all who have helped along the way.  JARVIS B. MANNING JR. (Ensemble) Houston, TX native. This is his first Equity production and he feels honored and blessed that it's with Motown! This performance is dedicated to his AMAZING family, especially his Aunt Barbs! THANK YOU GOD! KRISHA MARCANO (Ensemble) Broadway: Motown on Broadway; The Color Purple (Squeak, Original Cast); Sweet Charity; Aida; Fosse (1st Nat Tour). Concert Dance: Martha Graham Dance Co.; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Krisha is a proud member of AEA. MARQ MOSS (Ensemble) Background Vocalist: Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Carole King, Anita Baker, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross. Graduate of Clark Atlanta University.  B?way Tour: The Lion King (u/s Simba). Thanks God, family and friends. Hey, Mom!! RASHAD NAYLOR (Ensemble) Broadway: Hairspray (Thad, Seaweed U/S, Original Cast Album), Jersey Boys (Barry Belson). Off-Broadway: RENT (Benny), Tours: Rock of Ages, The Book of Mormon. Regional: The Rat Pack (Sammy Davis Jr.), The Wiz (Scarecrow). CHADAÉ NICHOL (Ensemble) Chicagoland Native, Ball State grad,  Chadaé is overjoyed to embark on this historic Motown Tour! Regional: Showboat, Oklahoma, Cabaret, Little Shop. Thanks to God, And my support system! Brittyn you are my star. Matt 5:14. @ChadaeNichol. LEON OUTLAW JR. (Young Berry/Stevie/Michael Jackson) At a very young age Leon began to sing and dance to the amazement of his parents. Inspired by Michael Jackson and James Brown, Leon made his stage debut at age 9. Ecstatic about being a part of Motown and Thanks God, family & Friends. Facebook, Leon-C-Outlaw-Jr; Twitter, @leoncoutlawjr; Instagram, LJOutlaw312.  RAMONE OWENS (Ensemble) A Los Angeles native, Ramone is beyond thrilled to be a part of Motown. Regional: Disney's Aladdin, Dreamgirls, Man of La Mancha. BFA, Boston Conservatory. Thanks to God, Mom, Dad and my "we knows". Hab: 2:3. NIC ROWE (Swing) Nic is thrilled to be joining Motown!  Last seen in the world-premiere Duncan Sheik musical, Because of Winn Dixie.  Love to my family and friends, boys & girl at Henderson/Hogan Agency. A graduate of The Boston Conservatory.    JAMISON SCOTT (Ensemble) Broadway: Spider-Man, Memphis, Grease. Tour/Regional:  Grease, Hairspray, We Will Rock You, Saturday Night Fever, Altar Boyz.  Recordings: Hairspray movie, Killer Queen- A Tribute to Queen, Grease 2007 Cast Album. To God be the glory! ILYHMS.  @JamisonScottR. REED LORENZO SHANNON (Young Berry/Stevie/Michael Jackson) Reed was trained at NC Theatre Conservatory.  He has performed roles in NCTC productions of Who?s Tommy, In the Heights and on the main stage in Oliver!. Reed received rave reviews while in the cast of ?Les Misérable? (2014 ? Gavroche) with NCT and Broadway Series South. DOUGLAS STORM (Ensemble) Broadway: Les Miserables, Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dance of the Vampires, Chess in Concert; Off-Broadway: Bat Boy (original cast); Other: Disney?s Tarzan, Because of Winn Dixie, Heathers; 20yr member of Actors Equity Association. MARTINA SYKES (Ensemble) Native of St. Petersburg, FL and graduate of the University of Florida. Favorite credits (Regional): Raindogs, Rent, Hairspray. "I would like to thank GOD, my family and friends for their unconditional love and support). Ephesians 3:20. CHRISTIAN DANTE WHITE (Ensemble) Scottsboro Boys: Broadway/London. NY/Tours: Book of Mormon, Hairspray, The Wiz,  Lost In the Stars, Cotton Club Parade, Jersey Boys. TV: NBC pilot "Man?s World," "Tonys Awards." Mom, Boo, Tosh, Kerrs, Sheehans, Headline, SBI, memory of UNC BROTHER. GALEN J. WILLIAMS (Swing) Galen is is THRILLED to be on his very first tour with Motown. Favorite past credits: Black Nativity, Passing Strange, Three Little Birds, 2-2 Tango, BDF Circle of Dreams. BFA, Howard University.
Clifton Oliver as Berry Gordy MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (C) Joan Marcus, 2014

Earlier this week we introduced you to Allison Semmes, who plays Diana Ross in the touring edition of Broadway’s, today I’m introducing you to Clifton Oliver, who plays the founder of Motown and the producer of Motown: The Musical, Berry Gordy. Clifton is considered a Broadway veteran and gave his insight on the business and how the acting roles of the Black male need to be expanded.

Boston Fab: What was the challenge in playing a living legend?

Clifton Oliver: I know Berry, I’ve known him for many years, so in the past he has been portrayed, like in Dream Girls, as a villian that stole money when the truth is that he is nothing like that. He is compassionate, loving, respectful…he just wanted a specific thing. You had to sing a certain way. You had to act a certain way. You had to have the respect of each other. I’ve learned that he’s also funny. It’s fun to be able to show that side of him through this work.

BF: If you weren’t acting what would you be doing?

CO: If I weren’t an actor, I would be…well actually, I love discovery and Egypt, so probably an archaeologist or build aquariums. I am very interested in tropical fish believe it or not.

BF: What do you like best about being in Broadway shows?

CO: You know as much as people talk about my career on Broadway, I’ve never opened a Broadway show. I’ve never been in an original Broadway cast, so I would still like to do that. Having that said, you know Boradway is being at the top of your profession – you are the best at what you do. It’s been a dream to play parts like Simba for 12 years. You get to escape reality and embody a character. People pay $250.00 to see you transcend into another world, and that is amazing.

Motown the MusicalBF: What do you like the best about touring?

CO: To be honest, it’s nice to be removed from reality. You have a set schedule, you know you have to be somewhere at 7:00pm or 7:30pm, but before then, you can do whatever. You have structure. You can be organized and focus which is sometimes something you can’t do in “real” life.

BF: What are the most difficult aspects for you doing the show?

CO: It’s the pressure of being in a show where the person who created the show is hands on. The pressure is constantly there. I always have to be on point; be on my game. Also going to theaters the sound varies, and I have to really rely on the sound. I have to change my voice over the years, so it is hard to do that.

BF: What do you love about the show?

CO: I love that I am 39, and I get to be forever young. People see him [Berry Gordy] as a 21 year old starting in the 1960’s, from 19 – 21, to being youthful and becoming an older man. I really like that evolution; that change.

BF: What are some principles, tips that you have for longevity in “The Business”?

CO: Trust every decision and don’t second guess yourself. I suffer from dyslexia and so for me when I come up with a decision, I have to risk, trust and go with it. I say that to young people. I say that to people with disabilities. Trust yourself. If you question yourself, everyone can see it, so that’s number one. Trust your choice.


BF: So what is next for you?

CO: The show is booked for another year. There are talks of Japan and London. I’m a dancer, singer and an actor, so I’m always hoping for more work in television and film. I need to move to L.A. to see what I can do.

BF: What do you think about Black actors feeling snubbed in the Oscars this year, yet there seems to have been may accolades for actors on Broadway? Is there a resurgence of Black actors on Broadway?

CO: I don’t think that there is a resurgence of Black actors, I think there is a resurgence of Black female actors. You see, I’m old school. I’m like a Sammy Davis Jr; a song and dance man. Right now they want more of the Harpo types. The dark, strong and mysterious man. I don’t want to be a stereotypical leading man. I think that pop culture is influencing that with the twerking video girls, athletes and drug dealing. We are missing the poetry.

BF: What can we do to be good audience members for Motown: The Musical?

CO: Don’t be quiet! The show is very interactive. If you feel moved to sing along, you can. Try to exude energy!

Motown: The Musical is playing at The Boston Opera House (539 Washington St, Theater District) through February 15th. Tickets range from $56.00 – $282.00. To purchase yours click here!

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus