By Erin Strecker
Updated January 15, 2013 at 03:00 PM EST
Andrew Eccles

Motown: The Musical

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Berry Gordy…boxing champion?

Not many people know that prior to founding Motown, Gordy was a featherweight boxer. But it’s just that idea that’s behind an EW exclusive promo image from the new Broadway show Motown: The Musical, which tells the real-life story of Gordy and feature hits from Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, and many others. Gordy will be portrayed by Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple), also in the photo (left).

“Boxing is one of those things [Gordy] has a love for. [It also represents] his drive and success; he’s a fighter ready to take on the world,” Dixon told EW.

Getting to bring that iconic music to life once again is a dream come true for Dixon. “Michael Jackson has always been my greatest inspiration,” Dixon said. “The Jackson 5 were really my conduit to Motown. Berry Gordy has always been this hazy legendary figure that I’ve known about in my childhood that was responsible for everything that I found important in the world.”

And Dixon is guessing that many fans are going to agree with him about fond memories of Motown. “Everyone you talk to in the world, whether they know it or not, because the catalog is so vast, a lot of times people have favorite songs that are Motown songs that they didn’t even know were Motown songs,” Dixon said. “[People] get that moment in time and they remember, Oh, yeah, when My Girl came out I was at so-and-so’s place… I want to evoke those memories again; I want it to come alive again. The biggest thing Motown did was change our social fabric; the way we interacted with each other as human beings. There is a lot of tension in the world, a lot of strife. A lot of what goes on in the world has people thinking about what makes us different. I hope that our show is able to remind people of what makes us the same.”

Motown: The Musical, with a book by Berry Gordy, begins previews at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on March 11 before an official opening on April 14.

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Motown: The Musical

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