Charl Brown was recently nominated for a Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in “Motown: The Musical” for playing Smokey Robinson. Check out what he had to say about taking on this iconic role!
Q: How did you come to star in “Motown” on Broadway?
CB: Well, it was a long audition process and they’ve been working on the show for over two years, but I’ve been working on it for a year and so we’ve been building the script and getting the songs together and so we finally got the show ready to present to Broadway.
Q: So is Smokey the character you originally went in for?
CB: Originally, to be honest, I auditioned for Marvin Gaye way back before I auditioned for Smokey. I didn’t get that role because it wasn’t right for me and then luckily they had me come back in to audition for Smokey Robinson and that was a fit.
Q: And what are your favorite Smokey Robinson songs?
CB: There’s so many! “Tracks of My Tears”, “Tears of a Clown” but in the show I get to sing, “You Really Got a Hold on Me” and “Shop Around”, those are the two favorites I get to sing.
Q: Can you tell me about meeting Smokey for the first time?
CB: The first time I met him was when I sang one of his songs. I sang “You Really Got a Hold on Me” actually and I got a chance to go out and meet him directly after that and he welcomed me with open arms and it was a dream come true moment.
Q: Did you ask him any questions to prepare for your role?
CB: I didn’t get a chance to ask him too many questions because we got mobbed and there was cameras and everyone around, but I did get to ask him what he taught and he said “Good job”. And that’s all I needed (laughs).
Q: Can you tell me about collaborating with Berry Gordy who is the show’s executive producer?
CB: It has been quite a labor of love to collaborate with Berry Gordy. I mean he’s a genius and there’s a reason why Motown became the success it is. It’s been an honor and privilege to work with him on his life story.
Q: What’s the highlight of being on this show?
CB: The highlight as been introducing my folks to Smokey Robinson. I mean, they’ve been huge fans for years. They got to meet Smokey and Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight and so they were all there on the opening night. And the fact that my parents have got to share that with me, that’s been the highlight of my life.
Q: Congratulations on your Tony nomination. What’s the most exciting part of being a Tony Nominee?
CB: It’s getting to wear this pin every day that says Tony Nominee (laughs).
Q: Anything else you like to add?
CB: Everyone come see it, you’ll be dancing in the streets I guarantee it.
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever. This exhilarating show charts Motown founder Berry Gordy’s incredible journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more. Featuring all the classics you love, the musical tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack that changed America. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Now, it has finally come to Broadway.
Emmy Award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris, star of the CBS comedy “How I Met Your Mother,” returns to host THE 67TH ANNUAL TONY AWARDS live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Sunday, June 9 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. Tune in to see if Brown will snag a Tony Award for his performance!
For more information visit: http://www.motownthemusical.com/#home-page