ON THE TOWN: Motown the Musical back at the Straz

By Virginia Johnson, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 4:12 PM EDT

"Point, spin kick, drop, come back up," said Ray Price Jr., as he easily dropped to the floor in a dance split and popped back up as though a marionettist or springs were involved.

He's hoping to add this move to his choreography as a young Michael Jackson in Motown the Musical.

  • Ray Price Jr., Latrisa Harper talk with Bay News 9's Virginia Johnson
  • Price has been singing since age 2
  • (We think Virginia is going to be OK after her split)
  • Link: Straz Center

It's a show that packs nearly every smash hit and big name of the era onto the stage. Davis Jr., an Indianapolis resident, is in his eighth month of the musical's national tour.

His dad, Ray Price Sr., is with him and he hasn't seen his mom since July, but he understands this is a whole other level of success.

In a phrase - that's show business.

"This is actually a blessing. I never thought I'd get to portray an icon - the King of Pop - this is like an awesome, awesome like moment," Davis Jr. said.

He's been singing since age 2, and acting and dancing at full steam for two years.

We space out and start to get limber.

"OK before you do it, you have to get in the split position, and basically just like stretch out," said Davis Jr., on the ground, his left leg tucked behind him and his right leg extended. "Because this is where we are going."

I immediately got a charlie horse - you know the one deep inside your muscle that cries out "Why?!"

Before I took this charlie horse path, we sat with performer Latrisa Harper, a ballerina, dancer, singer and actor.

And she's got a lifelong connection to Motown.

"Every Saturday we'd have to do our chores, in the mornings, and so my mom would play Motown all in the morning - so it was great," she said.

So the Ft. Pierce native's mom essentially prepared her to play Mary Wells, a Motown legend who sang the song "My Guy."

"I count it a privilege and an honor to sort or stand on the shoulders of Mary Wells," said Harper, when asked what it was like as an African-American woman to portray a groundbreaking woman of color.

Both Davis Jr. and Harper say they enjoy bringing Motown to life for audiences - even the dance-challenged.

Did that split happen?

Oh I got down, but getting up- it was really, really tough. I managed it, but it in no way, shape or form looked like Davis Jr..

We hugged it out at the end - because in addition to this experience, we also share a birthday.

It's been two days, and I'm still pretty sore.