DETROIT — The untold love story of Marvin Gaye and Anna Gordy is portrayed in “Pride & Joy The Marvin Gaye Musical” playing at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit from May 22-June 2, 2019. Pride & Joy tells the riveting story of their love and how the two changed history. Gaye’s songwriting also ultimately changes the direction of Motown.
The musical begins at the Flame Show Bar on John R and Canfield in Detroit with Jackie Wilson headlining, singing “Let’s Do The Twist.” A young Marvin Gaye walks in and there he meets Anna Gordy (sister of Berry Gordy of Motown Records).
Marvin Gaye (Jarran Muse and later Chae Stephen) arrives at Hitsville USA and Gwen (Anna’s sister) convinces Berry Gordy to listen to Marvin’s voice. After some coaxing, Berry wants to hear him sing. Marvin sings “Mr. Sandman” and Berry likes what he hears.
In the meantime, Marvin falls for Anna (Krystal Drake) hard, and asks her out. He is met with the fierceness of her strength, independence and power. Anna refuses with her famous words “I do not date the help.” Eventually she gives in and they marry after two years of courtship.
Marvin does a series of duets with singer Tammi Terrell which scored seven Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “You’re All I Need to Get By.”
During the course of his marriage, Anna accuses him of having an affair with Tammi, which he denies. The only thing Anna wants is to spend more time with him. Eventually they do and have a baby named Marvin Pentz Gaye III.
Terrell’s career was cut short when she collapsed into Gaye’s arms as the two performed at a concert at a Virginia college. She was later diagnosed with a brain tumor. Afterwards, while Marvin performed at the Apollo, Tammi arrives on stage in a wheelchair. He asks Tammi to sing a song with him. They sing “You’re All I Need to Get By.” One year later and after eight unsuccessful surgeries, Terrell dies at the age of 24. Painfully, Marvin mourns her death.
As the Vietnam War rages on, Marvin turns his attention to the social cause and sings “What’s going on.” Then it was announced that Berry Gordy is moving to California. Anna tries to convince Marvin to move too. While in Los Angeles, he returns to love songs with “Let’s Get It On” and Anna notices his direction has changed. Anna gets suspicious and throws Marvin out of the house. “I heard it through the grapevine” came along which seems appropriate.
Marvin dies at the age of 44 at the hands of his father on April 1, 1984. During Marvin Gaye’s career, he earned 18 pop Top 10’s, three of which were number ones and 38 R&B Top 10’s, 13 were number ones. He won a Grammy Award for “Sexual Healing.”
There was a 15-minute intermission between the two Acts. There is also haze, smoke and strobe lights throughout the performance. I enjoyed the musical tremendously. The sparkly wardrobe of the cast and the singing and choreography were fabulous. You will remember most, if not all, of his songs. At the end, there was a rousing standing ovation.
Pride & Joy performances are:
- Wednesday-Saturday at 8 p.m.
- Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
- Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.
- Sunday evening performances are cancelled
Tickets are available at the Fisher Theatre Box Office located at 3011 West Grand Blvd, in Detroit or at ticketmaster.com.