We’re taking you behind the scenes to get to know the Motown the Musical cast; we caught up with Charl Brown who plays Smokey Robinson to find out how much he’s enjoying being in London, his inspirations and what it’s like to play one of Motown’s biggest legends!
Q. You previously played Smokey Robinson in the Broadway production of Motown the Musical, how different are the UK audience?
A. I have actually been pleasantly surprised with how similar the audience is here in the UK. I sort of expected them to be more reserved but we have had the same reactions and nightly standing ovations like on Broadway. The only real difference has been the UK audience laughs at different things.
Q. What’s the best thing about being in Motown the Musical?
A. The best thing about being in Motown The Musical is that I not only have had the chance to know and to work with the Legendary Berry Gordy himself but also I am now truly a part of the Motown legacy!
Q. Have you faced any challenges in portraying such an iconic character?
A. Playing someone as iconic as Smokey eight times a week has its challenges because his look and sound are so specific and well known. I was born with a resemblance to him so that has been easy but trying to evoke the essence of his singing and speaking voice, which I was not born with, while trying to make that last for eight shows a week, has been a challenge that I’ve had to overcome and make work for myself.
Q. What is your favourite Motown song?
A. My Favorite Motown song is “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” which is not sung in our show but happens to be the first song of the overture. My father LOVES the Temptations so I grew up listening to their music a lot. However my favorite Smokey song is “Tears Of A Clown” which I got to perform in the Original Broadway Production for the first two weeks of previews. But then it was cut for time. I’m almost over it. Almost. Ha.
Q. What/ who inspired you to become a performer?
A. I grew up singing in my church gospel choir. My mother and grandmother encouraged me to do that once they realised I had a talent. But then in the 8th grade my parents enrolled me into the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in Southern California, which is where I grew up. That is where I really got bit by the Theatre Bug, as we say, and I knew then that I wanted to become an performer for a living.
Q. Do you have any pre or post show habits?
A. My main pre show habit is going to the gym. It’s the only thing that gets my mind and body fully ready for the performance.
Q. What is your must-have in your dressing room?
A. I MUST HAVE some sort of food in my dressing room. I eat a lot and am constantly hungry!
Q. Do you have any unusual/interesting hobbies or past-times?
A. My Favorite past time is Beyoncé! I can watch, listen and dance to her music over and over again. It’s sort of an obsession. I’m definitely part of the Beyhive. I love performers at the top of their game like that.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being in London?
A. I enjoy how international London is and how easy it is to travel to different places around Europe on my one day off.
Q. What does “Motown” mean to you?
A. Motown means Soul, family and love.
Keep an eye on the Motown Explore section for more exclusive Behind the Scenes features.