THE sweet soul music, the ups and downs ... the legacy.

It is all delivered as, Stevie Wonder says, 'signed and sealed' with love.

The hit West End production is here at last on Merseyside.

If you love Motown then you will love this musical.

It is slick, well-paced, funny and poignant just like the famous product from the self-styled hit factory's back-catalogue of classics.

Berry Gordy is the visionary who created a stable of stars and songs that remain the mainstay of most radio stations to this very day.

He stared it all with faith, hope and a little charity from his parents - $800 dollars, in fact.

Along the way he helped create household names - many of whom are still shining: Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson.

There are the legends from the hall of fame, too, from Marvin Gaye to Jackie Wilson.

It is a 'Who's Who' of all-American music borne out of Detroit - the Motor Town which became 'Motown' - a catchy title for the capital of black music.

Yet Berry (Edward Baruwa) had a dream - he wanted the songs and the singers to appeal to all races and creeds.

He had to deal with racism, egos, legal battles and heart-break to ultimately achieve global recognition.

The story is penned by Berry, who is also one of four producers, so we can hear a first-hand account of the tears and laughter, the struggle and success.

Back-screen projections show news footage of world shattering events including JFK and Martin Luther King's assassinations and the company's 25th anniversary reunion gala.

It provides the historic context and timeline for Motown's multi-layered musical history.

There are 50 songs in over two and a half hours, some only a few bars long. Others are reproduced with consistent crystal clear clarity and there's plenty of scope for those in the audience who want to supply impromptu backing vocals of sorts.

At one stage Diana Ross (Karis Anderson) invited a couple of ladies from the audience to join her on a duet with her.

A simple idea that works wonderfully especially here on enthusiastic Merseyside.

It is not the sharpest of scripts, but that is happily compensated for by first-class singing, choreography and a true story told with passion from the leading players and high-energy 30-strong ensemble driven by a faultless live band.

The songs speak for themselves: What's Going On, My Girl, My Guy, War, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Dancing in the Street and Reet Petite to name just a few classics.

You catch your breath before another hit emerges from the creative conveyor belt.

The finely-tuned show works on many levels inviting you to discover the behind-the-scenes back-story.

Or you can simply close your eyes and listen to the soundtrack to all our lives.

Motown did for music what Hollywood did for movies.

This enjoyable, entertaining celebration takes you away on that magical jukebox journey.

Four stars


Motown the Musical

Until September 28

Tickets from 0844 871 3017