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Arts & Culture

Shepherd University’s Contemporary Theater Debuts Original Motown Musical

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Shepherd Snyder
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Cast members of “Motown: Music from the Motor City” at rehearsal

Shepherd University’s contemporary theater department is celebrating Black music by premiering an original musical on campus featuring arrangements of classic Motown hits. The show was directed and written by kb saine, director of the school’s contemporary theater studies program.

The musical, titled “Motown: Music from the Motor City,” takes Black music from the 60s and sets it against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. saine says she wants to give social and cultural context to the Motown music scene.

“By lifting up the Black voices in the story of the people who made the music, it does allow us to serve everyone, and it does allow for a sense of equity that we've been able to extend to our students and to our community members as well,” said saine.

Also involved as the production’s music director is the dean of the university’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Rob Tudor. As music director, Tudor wants to explore what makes the sound of Motown so universally loved.

“Why has it lasted as long as it has? Why is it still popular?” Tudor said. “I went to a wedding in January… and a few people were dancing, but the moment they put on Motown music, the whole room jumped up on the floor and started dancing because it was music for everybody.”

Both Tudor and saine are excited to contribute to the Eastern Panhandle’s artistic tradition.

“I often refer to [Shepherdstown] as sort of the cultural hub of the area,” said Tudor. “There’s a lot going on, not just in Shepherdstown, but around us, as well.”

“There’s a great music scene, there's a great theater scene, and it’s professionally and community driven,” saine added. “And there's an audience for the arts that really appreciates it.”

The show premieres Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Shepherd University’s Marinoff Theater. It will also run Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4:00 p.m.


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