NON-STOP: Higher and Higher is an energetic two-hour tribute to the sounds and stars of Motown. This photo is from the sold-out 2016 season.
NON-STOP: Higher and Higher is an energetic two-hour tribute to the sounds and stars of Motown. This photo is from the sold-out 2016 season.

Love of Motown keeps lifting Higher and Higher

HE was born in 1983 but grew up with the sounds of his parents' Motown records, and fell in love.

In fact, Jamie Watt was so much in love with the music that he created his own musical Higher and Higher: the Motown Musical to celebrate it.

A sell-out hit for Spotlight Theatre in 2016, Jamie worked on the project for two years prior, and it is having its revival by popular demand from August 2-24.

Comprising more than 55 hits performed as medleys over two hours, it is not a stage play but an energetic musical showcase of the best of Motown, including its influence on disco stars like Donna Summer.

Co-creating, co-choreographing, directing and co-starring in the show, Jamie has had a hand in just about every aspect of it, including helping to build and paint the sets, and arrange the lighting.

"It's a project I'm really passionate about," he said (in case there was any doubt).

"I keep telling the cast, it's unlike anything you've ever done before; audience members jump up and dance in the aisles!

"The music never stops; everyone comes out breathless."

 

NON-STOP: Higher and Higher is an energetic two-hour tribute to the sounds and stars of Motown. This photo is from the sold-out 2016 season.
NON-STOP: Higher and Higher is an energetic two-hour tribute to the sounds and stars of Motown. This photo is from the sold-out 2016 season.

Jamie has three major co-stars, established professionals Hannah Rigby and Caroline Taylor and the upcoming "vocal powerhouse" Jacquelyn Turner.

They are backed by four chanteuse and six dancers, as well as a nine-piece band.

The David Jones sales manager started out at 17 in the Arts Centre Gold Coast's Summer School Program, and went on to perform in 26 shows with esteemed local director, the late Robert Young, before touring professionally.

He chose the songs for Higher and Higher based on the "Oh, I love that song" test - listening to hundreds of songs on CD and Spotify, waiting for the ones that really grabbed him.

He said, in most cases, the audience will know every word of the choruses of songs by the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and Aretha Franklin.

"We don't imitate, but it is definitely our tribute to the original stars," Jamie said.

"Last time we got a lot of people - Baby Boomers and older - who grew up with this music, and love a chance to relive it."

The music's appeal, however, he said was ageless, thanks to its diversity, great sound, talented musicians and "that driving baseline beat that you still hear so much in music today".

As well as the August season, there is a charity performance on Wednesday, July 31 to raise money for the Lions Club's Big Red Kidney Bus project to provide mobile dialysis for southern Queensland.

Tickets (Seniors $30) are available at www.spotlighttheatre.com.au or call 5539 4255 10am-4.30pm Monday to Friday or 9am-3pm Saturdays.


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