There's never been a soul singer who was more universally acclaimed and admired than Marvin Gaye. His sweet, pure voice sparked decades of Motown hits, from the R&B of "Hitch Hike" and "Can I Get a Witness" and to such gorgeous pop numbers as "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" to sophisticated songs that wore their social conscience on their sleeve -- "What's Going On" and "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" among them -- Gaye's music appealed even to people who weren't into soul music.
He died at the peak of his career, but area fans can still get a taste of the Marvin Gaye experience when Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe brings back "Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul."
Sheldon Roden, a WBTT member, reprises his performance as Gaye in this new version of the show, which was written by WBTT artistic director Nate Jacobs. The show, a big hit for WBTT in 2011, starts with Gaye's early days at Motown and follows the turns of his life and career up until his death in the mid-1980s, when he was shot by his father.
Roden, according to people who have seen his performance, offers faithful re-creations of a lot of Gaye's most resonant numbers.
Details: July 16-Aug. 10, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1646 10th Way, Sarasota. Show times: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $29.50. Information: 941-366-1505, wbttsrq.org.
-- Marty Clear