The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

‘The Magic of Motown’ celebrates classic hits at Virginia Theatre

Emma Pyatt
“The Magic of Motown’s” impersonators of Martha and the Vandellas perform at the Virginia Theatre on Friday night.

The Virginia Theatre brought Motown to Champaign on Friday night with expressive choreography, soulful vocals and glamorous costuming that transported the audience right back to the ’60s and ’70s. 

According to the Virginia Theatre’s website, “The Magic of Motown” features a group of 15 power vocalists accompanied by a six-piece band and impersonates famous Motown singers such as Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, the Jackson Five and more.

The Virginia Theatre was packed and buzzing with excitement. Few empty seats were left in the theater as people poured in dressed in their best suits, dresses and hats and eagerly anticipating a night filled with some of Motown’s best music.

A recording company founded in Detroit in 1959, Motown not only became one of the most successful Black-owned businesses in American history but also one of the most influential independent record companies. The company gave its name to the hugely popular style of soul music it created.

The six-piece band started the show without introduction. The rich sound of the saxophone filled the silence of the theater before the band blossomed into a smooth instrumental filled with groovy keyboard melodies and a steady strum beat.

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The first song of the night was “Stop! In the Name of Love,” by the Supremes, and by the first chord, audience members were already out of their seats, dancing in the aisles and singing along to the song.

The second performance of the night was by the band’s impersonators of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell who gave an enthralling and passionate performance of “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Terrell’s impersonator’s sparkling green dress captured the fluorescent lights of the Virginia Theatre while Gaye’s impersonator had on a sequined green suit to match. The costuming, paired with smooth vocals and effortless dance moves, perfectly captured the essence of Motown.

An impersonator of Gladys Knight followed with a performance of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” The cover was filled with passionate vocals and lively choreography that had the audience dancing and cheering.

One of the standout performances of the night was the covers of Aretha Franklin’s songs “Respect” and “You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman).”

“Respect” had nearly everyone in the theater up out of their seat by the end of it as Franklin’s glossy vocals sang each note effortlessly; her vibrato echoing in the theater and her voice rich and cool, gliding through the lyrics. 

“R-e-s-p-e-c-t,” Franklin’s impersonator sang, holding out the microphone to the audience.

“Find out what it means to me,” the audience sang in unison, perfectly in time and perfectly in pitch.

The Jackson 5 concluded the first half of the show, dazzling the stage with entertaining dance moves and some of their most popular songs before taking a 15-minute intermission. 

The second half consisted of covers by Diana Ross, The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and a collaboration between The Temptations and The Supremes as the finale.

The Temptations, adorned in matching outfits, sang some of their biggest hits such as “Get Ready,” “My Girl” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” Their tender harmonies were flawless as the band played smoothly behind them. 

As The Temptations and The Supremes closed out the show, the theater atmosphere was just as lively as it had been throughout the night. 

The fluorescent lights and the groovy melodies guided the audience through the final performance as the soulful journey through Motown came to a close.


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About the Contributor
Annisyn Krebs-Carr
Annisyn Krebs-Carr, Senior buzz Reporter
Hi, I’m Annisyn! I am currently a freshman majoring in journalism. I started with The Daily Illini in Fall 2023 as a buzz staff writer, and became Senior buzz Reporter in the spring. I’m excited to be a part of The DI editorial team, and I’m looking forward to writing more arts and entertainment content. When I’m not writing for The DI, I enjoy playing with my dogs and watching movies. For any questions or concerns feel free to contact me at my email below.
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