Getting some Midnight Love from Marvin Gaye

There have been plenty of iconic music eras across the years, but none quite as important as the Motown era. This period spawned many of the musical greats from Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross & The Supremes right through to the Jackson 5. And of course, Marvin Gaye whose story has inspired the creation of the latest offering on the Melbourne music scene Let’s Get It On: The Life and Music of Marvin Gaye.

Bert La Bonte and Jude Perl (1)

I came into this show last night knowing very little about Marvin Gaye. I knew a couple of his famous songs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Sexual Healing and Let’s Get It On – all of which featured in last night’s show – and I knew that his life ultimately ended when his father shot him in the chest. Apart from that, Marvin Gaye had somehow been skipped in my musical education.

Structured around his life story, Let’s Get It On features a rocking band lead by Australian musical theatre great Bert LaBonté as Marvin Gaye and the up-and-coming Jude Pearl as all the other important people he performed with. However, not structured like a typical musical, it is essentially a review of his famous catalogue with some very interesting anecdotes about his life discussed in between each songs providing a new level of depth in the lyrics that previously went unnoticed.

Both Bert LaBonté and Jude Pearl give stellar performances as they work their way through his stunning musical collection capturing the attention of the audience and encouraging a lot of enthusiastic chair grooving. And these performances are complemented by the widely varied song choice allowing these two artists to show off their beautiful voices in a mixture of sultry duets, upbeat grooving tunes and slow ballads.

While the musical moments form the highlights of the night, the show’s success is captured through breaking the fourth wall.

In between each of the numbers, Bert and Jude have a discussion with the audience about certain aspects of Marvin Gaye’s life. By bringing down this barrier between themselves and the audience they are able to cultivate a relationship around the mutual appreciation of Marvin Gaye’s catalogue enriching the audience’s experience in the theatre. And responding to catcalls and sighs from the audience when they only gave us a preview of Sexual Healing certainly provides some levity to the night making the show even more enjoyable.

This relationship built over the night certainly pays off at the end of the show where the audience are invited to stand up, sing and dance along with the cast and band as Marvin rocks away into the night leaving the audience on a high as they walk out of the theatre. This finish worked for Mamma Mia! and it works again here in Let’s Get It On ending the night on a high for everyone in attendance and ensuring that they head out of the theatre ready to go Dancing in the Street and tell all their friends about the show!

Let’s Get It On is playing at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre through May 25. To book tickets, click here.

Due to popular demand and a series of fantastic reviews another performance of Let’s Get It On: The Life and Music of Marvin Gaye has been added to the Melbourne season on Sunday 25 May at 6pm. Book tickets quickly!

Bert LaBonte and Jude Perl (2)