Stage West shows its soul with Motown musical

You’ve heard the songs, but unless you’re a music buff, you probably don’t know the story behind the lyrics. 

Stage West’s Soul of Motown puts a very deserving spotlight on the writing trio of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie — a.k.a. Holland-Dozier-Holland — who teamed up to bring Motown to life in the ’60s and ’70s. 

Maybe their names don’t sound familiar, but the threesome wrote more than 400 songs, with over 100 that hit Gold and 40 that hit the top of the pop charts. 

You’d probably recognize the tunes, which helped propel Diana Ross and The Supremes to fame while The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson also sang some of the biggest hits. 

Despite their success writing for legendary artists,  the group’s success was not without its trials and tribulations as detailed in the Stage West production written by Gregg Ostrin, Howard Pechet and Shirley Washington. 

It was a humbling honour for Amanda De Freitas to take on the role of Ross in the production, especially as it’s the first time the triple threat has performed for a live audience since the pandemic halted many productions across the world. 

“It feels like getting back to home base in a way, and it’s awesome to get the energy from the audience and get the reactions and be able to entertain and to heal as artists,” she says. 

It’s De Freitas’ first Stage West role, but as someone trained in singing, acting and dancing, it’s a challenge she was ready to receive and conquer. 

“I enjoy getting to do this kind of show because, yeah, it does challenge all of my artistic aspects, and it allows me to learn and grow in new ways, as well because it is such a large role for me,” she says. 

“It feels like I’m stretching my wings a little bit wider than they might have in the past.” 

De Freitas and her siblings were put into dancing, singing and acting classes when they were younger by her mom. In fact, the artist’s entry into the performance world is a funny story, she says. 

“I actually didn’t like it at first because I wasn’t good at it. But the more I was in it, the more I would see other people that were successful at it. And that spoke to me.”

So she stuck with it, watching different music videos, movies and award shows such as the Grammys and the Tonys for inspiration. 

“Seeing all the different people in their success kind of made me realize that it’s cool. It’s not a thing that should be considered nerdy because, for a while, I thought it was very nerdy, and I would hide it from my friends. But then it became very popular,” she says. 

“I started getting good at it, then I was like, ‘Hey, you know, this might be a thing.’ 

“And here we are.” 

As a competitive dancer, De Freitas grew up doing many competitions and performances at school, and she also sang at her church, which made her foray into music and singing lessons the natural next step. 

Her past experience helped launch her directly into the role of the legendary Ross, even if the actor wasn’t a Motown music aficionado, to begin with. 

“I wasn’t a huge fan of Motown music, to be honest. But I heard a lot of it. There’s a lot of people in the cast that know a lot about Motown and the era and the people. And that’s not me,” De Freitas explains. 

“But I have learned a lot getting to play this role and getting to do the research. It’s so awesome to be a part of the story where music sort of began and how B lack music, in particular, began and be able to learn about the story as I acted it out.”

The Soul of Motown runs until Sunday Feb. 6 at Stage West Theatre.  For tickets and more info, please go to