Preview | New UA musical follows the life of a Motown star

“Shooting Star” was set to premiere off-Broadway. Now you can watch it from the comfort of your own home (while supporting UA thespians).

Joshua LeBerte, Crimson White, Contributing Writer

Music listeners, history buffs and those who wish to give back to the Department of Theatre and Dance have just four days to purchase tickets for the University’s latest musical rendition of the life and legacy of Motown singer Billy Griffin: “Shooting Star,” directed by Seth Panitch, head of the acting program.

The production is set in 1972 and follows a young musician named Billy Griffin who sets his dreams into motion after a fateful audition for one of Detroit’s premier music groups. From there, Griffin was transformed from a Baltimore native to full-time Motown singing superstar.

WHO: The University Department of Theatre and Dance worked in conjunction with students, faculty and professional collaborations from both the music and theatre industries to make this production possible.

WHAT: A fictional musical based on the true life events and songs of the R&B singer, Billy Griffin.

WHEN: The show has unlimited access once the viewer purchases a ticket. Tickets have been available on UA’s ticketing system since March 12 and will continue to be available until Sunday.

WHERE: Once tickets are purchased through the UA ticketing system, the viewer will receive an email with instructions on how to view and other details. Viewers must have the latest version of either Google Chrome or Firefox to view the show on their internet browser.

WHY: Dominic Yaegar, the head of arts management, said the musical has been in the works for the past three years, following the department’s other show “Separate and Equal.”

From there, Panitch was approached by Griffin to make and produce a musical based on his life and other prominent R&B artists of the time. Panitch created the musical’s script in 2019 through interviews with Griffin.

The plot of the musical is similar to Griffin’s own experiences after his induction as the singer who replaced Smokey Robinson in the Motown group The Miracles.

This show might not be an explicit biography of Griffin’s life, but director Panitch said the musical is thematic enough to encompass general aspects of fame that all performers can relate to.

“Billy and I are using his music and some of his experiences as a musician to inspire a universal story about the seductiveness and destructiveness of fame,” Panitch said. “Billy has wanted to share his music in its totality, and this proved the optimal way of doing it.”

The show was meant to have an off-Broadway debut from September to October this year. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the musical’s showings at 59E59 Theaters to be suspended until 2022.

For now, Yeager said, the musical will continue to be workshopped by students on campus.