Stooshe girl band singer Karis Anderson on stage in Sheffield in Motown the Musical

A member of a modern-day girl band is playing Diana Ross, one of the most iconic female music stars ever, on stage in Sheffield.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 5:29 pm
Karis Anderson, centre, as Diana Ross, lead singer of The Supremes, in Motown the Musical

Karis Anderson stars in Motown the Musical, touring to the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from November 19 to 30.

Karis said: “It's only my second role ever. I actually auditioned for an ensemble part as one of The Supremes. When I got that part I was more than happy to play it.

“I was in a girl band heavily influenced by The Supremes. A few years later to be up for Diana Ross, some of my dreams came true.

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“I thought, I’m going to make the most of every single second playing one of my mum’s greatest idols, Diana Ross. That filtered down to me.”

Karis was one third of Stooshe, a girl band whose 2012 hit Black Heart had a video with a storyline that’s reminiscent of Motown-inspired show Dreamgirls.

Aged 30, Karis had to research about Diana Ross by looking at her performances online but being in Stooshe certainly helped, too.

“Our music was Motown inspired – it was pop music with the essence of Motown. It had a Sixties feel to it, a little bit different to the average girl band.

“After it ended I really wanted to continue performing. Musical theatre was one of my earliest dreams ever. I've an agent, Keddie Scott, who is amazing. I’m weaving a whole new dream.”

Karis sais that the show is based around the story of Berry Gordy, the creator of the iconic Motown record label.

Diana Ross was both one of Berry Gordy’s biggest star artists and his love interest for several years. The couple had a daughter together.

Karis said the audience see Diana Ross’s story over a period of 15 to 20 years.

She began by singing with The Primettes, who later went on to become The Supremes, then Diana Ross and The Supremes, before Ross went on to have a huge solo career.

“She goes from young and bubbly to a woman in charge of her own career.”

The US black civil rights movement is part of the story, said Karis: “We touch upon that in quite a few moments.

“The music of Motown and the way that Berry Gordy brought people of different races together was a big part of the civil rights movement.

“He refused to have artists perform where black and white people weren’t at least on the same level in a club or bar, where often they were segregated.”

The show features more than 50 hits including My Girl, What’s Going On, Dancing in the Street, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Karis said: “We’re celebrating the music of Berry Gordy and how many artists he brought through, wonderful artists we know and love such as Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye.”

She said: “I love singing The Supremes songs in harmony. My favourite is Reach Out and Touch. I get an audience member up on stage with me.”

She also loves singing You’re All I Need with Berry Gordy, a love duet that was actually a hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell but fits a dramatic moment.

Karis is looking forward to exploring Sheffield. When Stooshe sang at the Christmas lights switch-on and Party in the Park they just made flying visits.

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