The love story between singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye and business woman Anna Gordy Gaye is at the center of the new play, “Pride & Joy: The Marvin Gaye Musical.” Performances will take place Wednesday – Sunday, June 19 – 23 at the Chicago Theatre located at 175 N. State St.
The play about Gaye and Gordy, who was the older sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, features 28 songs from the Motown catalogue.
Marvin Gaye III, son of Marvin and Anna and chief executive officer of MGIII Global Licensing International, is involved with the production.
Krystal Drake portrays Anna Gordy Gaye, whom she described as a mogul.
“She was very much about her business. Things had to be done and things had to be done right,” Drake said. “She wasn’t a performer, but she was backstage. She was orchestrating everything.”
Drake said Anna was the inspiration for some of Gaye’s songs.
“This show centers around them both and how their relationship contributed to the sound of Motown.”
To prepare, Drake said she did a lot research.
“We are playing actual people, so you want to do it justice. I did some personal work of my own so I could connect with the character,” she said.
Some of that work included connecting to some of Drake’s own personal experiences and drawing from past romantic relationships. She also said the directors — Angela Barrow-Dunlap and D’Extra Wiley — were incredible and helped the cast get through the journey.
“Collectively, we all want people to remember Marvin Gaye and what he stood for,” Drake said. “We also want people to remember Anna and all the things she stood for.”
Jarran Muse portrays earlier Marvin Gaye. Muse was also handpicked by Berry Gordy to portray Gaye in “Motown: The Musical.”He said he received a lot of help from Gordy in order to prepare for his portrayal of Gaye for the first time. Now, Muse has gained a lot of insight into the type of man Gaye was.
“He’s definitely a different person than he was in the ‘70s. He was influenced by Frank Sinatra and Perry Cuomo,” Muse said. “I think Marvin was one of the truest artists we ever had. It’s literally his life in music when you listen to his albums.”
Muse said to prepare, he also read all the books he could about Gaye. He even found moments where his life paralleled Gaye’s life.
“He was a very sensitive soul, as am I. I always wanted to be a balladeer,” he said. “I find myself attached to him so much.”
Muse said he hopes he does Gaye justice.
“I just hope people are able to witness Marvin coming alive for those 2 ½ hours. The two Marvins…both of us have this same goal. We feed off each other and it’s awesome,” he said.
Muse said he hopes that people receive the prevailing message of the play: Love.
“I hope that they really understand the relationship that Anna and Marvin have. I hope that people understand love conquers everything,” he said. “I hope they get to see Marvin and Anna on their incredible journey.”
Chae Stephen portrays latter day Marvin Gaye. He said everyone knew that Gaye was a troubled man. After the death of Tami Terrell and the Vietnam War, he was different.
“His position kind of shifted a little bit,” he said. “He became a little more attuned.”
Stephen described Gaye as complex and emotionally connected. He said he was trying to get a message out to save the hearts of man.
Stephen said he has been studying Gaye for about five years because he was going to start a Marvin Gaye revue but then he found out about “Pride & Joy.”
“I sang a few songs, read a few lines and I got the gig,” he said.
Stephen is aware of the weight of portraying someone like Gaye.
“This is truly an awesome opportunity that I’ve been given to perform Marvin Gaye’s music,” he said. “He was so beloved by so many people.”
Stephen said he hopes people can experience Gaye’s level of musicality.
“What I hope people get is an idea of what real music is and what it can do for our spirit and our soul,” he said. “Unfortunately, music today is really shallow; there isn’t much depth.”
Stephen also said that he hopes people leave the play with a feeling that never leaves them.
“People have said to me, ‘You really made me feel the way I felt when I first heard that song,’” he said. “It’s very important that spirit (of Marvin Gaye) takes over.”
Stephen added that he hopes people in Chicago will come out to see the play.
“It’s something that is worth their time and energy. I hope they feel the energy that we’re putting out there,” he said.
For tickets, visit www.marvingayemusical.com.