Marvin Gaye play is thriller, not musical

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The director of a play about Motown icon Marvin Gaye says the work is more a thriller than a musical.

Soul is to open at the Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton, England, in May next year. It was written while award-winning playwright Roy Williams OBE spent several years working closely with the later singer’s family.

Gaye was shot dead in 1984 in a domestic altercation with his father.

Director James Dacre tells the BBC: “It’s a dramatic thriller, not a musical. It will have the spirit and energy of Motown, and it will include music from the time.

“While the piece looks at three generations of a port-war African American family, everything roots back to the home, and what happens in the course of 18 days underneath that roof.”

While he accepts it’s a well-known story, he adds: “Roy’s access to so many of the people who were there gives him a unique perspective, and will allow our audience an unusual insight into what happened.”

At least three significant attempts to portray Gaye’s life in a movie have come to nothing over the past decade, with Lenny Kravitz billed as the star of one. Gaye’s ex-wife and son have spoken out in the past again the idea of a biopic being made.