While there is nothing in the slightest bit ‘Christmassy’ about the New Theatre’s blockbuster Motown The Musical, there is no denying that time spent in its company is an uplift to the soul that the season demands.

Soul – that’s the word, chosen deliberately by your reviewer who nearly 60 years ago first thrilled to the music thus described.

In truth, it tended to be applied to gut-wrenching material from the likes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and other glorious luminaries of the Stax label, of Memphis, Tennessee.

Soul surged too, though, through the slicker, sweeter offerings – ever a tug towards the dance floor – from magical Motown, named of course for the ‘motortown’ of Detroit.

Its influence in Britain began in earnest in 1964 when the Supremes scored two consecutive No1s, with Where Did Our Love Go and Baby Love, which are both heard here.

Actually, Mary Wells – played by Dayo Adeoye – had the first hit this side of the Atlantic with My Guy. She was rash enough to leave the label, and never really had another.

These early successes came in a year otherwise dominated by UK acts, the best known of which, The Beatles, certainly had not ignored Motown.

As the on-stage Marvelettes belted into their 1961 hit Please Mr Postman, my neighbour in the stalls observed: “I hadn’t realised this was not a Beatles original.”

Motown was the creation of Berry Gordy, as is this show whose book he fashioned from his autobiography. This former boxer was – is – a notoriously tough cookie, a trait of character reflected to an extent in what we are shown (with understudy Cordell Mosteller in the role on opening night).

As may be expected, we get a somewhat sanitised version of the story, with no suggestion, for instance, of the ‘battery hen’ conditions in which star song-writers like Holland/Dozier/Holland – who supplied a string of No 1s for The Supremes and others – were obliged to produce their work.

We do see, though, how Gordy cleverly encouraged competition between the creatives, in particular the Holland team and the great Smokey Robinson (Nathan Lewis).

It seemed to me a regrettable omission that no mention is made of Motown’s most prominent white performer and songwriter, R. Dean Taylor – important in the later career of Diana Ross.

Miss Ross (memorably portrayed by Karis Anderson) wielded much clout as long-time lover of Gordy, a relationship strongly featured in the second half of this colourful, zippy show (director Charles Randolph-White).

The first is given over much more to the music, from the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye (Shak Gabbidon-Williams) and Stevie Wonder (Daniel Haswell).

Since 50 songs get to be heard, you’ll realise most are heavily cut. I’d have preferred fewer, longer.

The show continues until January 4. atgtickets.com 4/5