An interview with a star

Motown the Musical’s Jarran Muse gives the inside scoop

By Dylan Randolph, Editor in Chief

Every theatre kid’s dream is to someday make it on Broadway. Countless hours of preparation, rehearsals, singing lessons, dance workshops and memorizing lines are only some of the aspects musical theatre entails. However, for the select few, there comes a time where their dreams finally come true and they find themselves up onstage in front of thousands performing. When “Motown the Musical” came home to Detroit, Jarran Muse (who plays Marvin Gaye) was able to sit down to tell his experience of performing in a Broadway musical.

Jarran Muse-wwwplayhousesquareblog_org

Jarran Muse (Image from www.playhousesquareblog.org)

Originally from New Jersey, Muse has had much success in his theatre career. Some of the most recent roles Muse has taken on have been: Marvin Gaye in Motown the Musical, Jimmy in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Curtis and ensemble in Dreamgirls, while also having the ability to tour in American Idiot, 42nd Street, and Hairspray. Muse studied at the University of the Arts, Montclair State University, and Somerset County NJ Performing Arts School, where he picked up a diverse set of skills for his musical theatre career. Some of the talents include salsa, stage combat, choreography, and even different languages. With such an impressive resume, it is no surprise that Muse was selected to play Marvin Gaye in the tour of “Motown the Musical.”

With a Broadway show like “Motown the Musical,” there is a very long rehearsal process when it comes to portraying a character­­ – especially one that actually existed. For Muse, this was a unique opportunity to play such an iconic figure like Marvin Gaye. Muse describes the difficulty he had trying to portray Marvin Gaye when he says:

“A majority of the times as an actor you’re portraying a character that was made up that you can put your own take on it and do whatever you want. This man lived and he was a legend and an iconic. So there’s a lot of pressure when portraying a role like this…There’s just so much that goes into a character like Marvin Gaye. That is the hardest part of playing this role, making sure I do it justice.”

Jarran Muse as Marvin Gay #2_Joan Marcus

(Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye, by Joan Marcus)

But in order to truly prepare for this role, Muse would have to do extensive research into Gaye in order to get a feel for his character.

“There’s a lot of research­ involved like reading, and a lot of watching old clips, and listening to old interviews to get a sense of him. However, the main piece of information I had was Barry Gordy, Jr. He was Marvin Gaye’s brother-in-law, so he had a lot of personal time with him and he was really able to dig into the scenes with me.”

With any performer there is always a reason for being part of a show, whether it is having an agent contact you with an audition opportunity or risking it all turning down certain parts for others. However, Muse’s inspiration for being a part of  “Motown the Musical” came with his love for theatre and the music itself.

“As an actor, you don’t choose what job you have. If you are lucky enough to be selected from the audition process, then you are probably going to take that job because there isn’t much out there. But Motown is our history. It’s not just our history as African-Americans it’s our history as Americans. So when I heard that Barry Gordy Jr. was attached to this project, I knew that it was going to be huge, and it was something I wanted to be a part of. I love Motown, I love Marvin Gaye, I love my job, so when I was offered to comeback after we closed on Broadway with this new company, I didn’t have any reason not to take it.”

Theatre can be such an amazing experience for the cast, it brings the individuals closer together than ever before and they form a family. Muse, who first started in “Motown the Musical” as a Swing, but then was able to take on the role of Marvin Gaye in the touring company, describes the love he has for his fellow cast members:

“I’ve been a part of Motown for many years and I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. But this company is such a cohesive unit that everyone just really brings it 100 percent every single show and I haven’t seen that in a long time. I’m really impressed with this cast, and I love their work ethic, and I just love that we all gel as a whole.”

Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye_Joan Marcus

(Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye, by Joan Marcus)

Just as Muse described, theatre is such a fantastic experience for everyone involved whether it is the cast, the crew, or the audience. “Motown the Musical” was an amazing experience for Muse that he was more than excited to share his story to everyone.

For tickets to see the musical one can visit fisher.theatredetroit.com. For anyone wanting to learn more about Jarran Muse and his impressive theatre background they can visit jarranmuse.com