As a wedding present from friends, we were treated to a delightful evening to see the evening performance of Dreamgirls on Saturday 25th March 2017. The musical originated on Broadway back in 1981 and following it being made into a film, winning numerous awards, it finally arrived in the West End in late 2016. It has already been rumoured to be making a revival on Broadway soon and with a soundtrack being released in April 2017 – there is no better time and reason to go and see this mighty show!
Dreamgirls tells the story of three girls, The Dreamettes with lead singer, Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson with Effie’s brother C.C writing their songs. They get their first break when Curtis persuades James ‘Thunder’ Early to let the Dreamettes sing their backing vocals. Effie soon beings to date Curtis and Lorrell starts an affair with Jimmy. However upon Deena being moved to lead vocals replacing Effie, the story starts to sour. Effie is forced out of the group and the girls then continue on the road to stardom and success.
One aspect of the show that becomes apparent is the use of a simple yet effective set design. The production mainly focusses around various lighting rigs which were continually moved to provide the transitions for each scene. However it isn’t until Act two that the audience see more glamour and sparkle from the set. The costumes speak for themselves – they are glitzy, colourful and many of the stunning gowns on display show how hard and talented those behind the scenes are at work in making this production stand out from the opening numbers. This production also showcases a fantastic array of wigs – for most costume changes there are new wigs for the majority of the female roles. This show isn’t just about the performance, but for those who work tirelessly backstage making this show happen.
Having seen the Dreamgirls film in 2006, I was familiar with the story and how strong the performances needed to be to make the story come to life. Amber Riley who plays Effie has a voice unlike anybody else. Despite my own experience of seeing the film and hearing the original Dreamgirls soundtrack, Amber’s voice is simply jaw dropping. Her vocal range, depth and emotion had my hair on end throughout the entire performance. I knew Amber had a great voice but I didn’t expect to be blown away by every one of her songs. The audience were on their feet at the end of ‘And I Am Telling You’ and seeing her give everything to this performance was an emotional experience. I may have even let out a cheer and WOW as she hit every single note!
The two other female leads, Liisi Lafontaine (Deena) and Asmeret Ghebremichael (Lorrell) had phenomenal vocals and with Asmeret recently joining the cast following Ibionabo Jacks withdrawal from the cast due to health reasons – I absolutely loved her performance from start to finish – a great new addition to the Dreamgirls London cast.
Liisi’s ‘Listen’ duet with Amber was another highlight of the evening and I cannot wait for the soundtrack next month to listen to this particular song – it had the audience cheering throughout the song, which was thoroughly well deserved.
I have rated Dreamgirls with four stars as I did enjoy the show with many astounding performances, however at times I felt the show could have given more in places. Whilst the set was simple, it often felt underwhelming with the same set piece being used for the majority of the show. With a show as grand as this – I personally felt the set could have been more impressive. The ‘Dreamgirls’ song sounded extremely thin – I’m not sure if a click-track was missing but I expected this number to be far more impressive than it came across – especially as this is their first major song.
I must also comment about the impressive Front of House team at The Savoy Theatre. I have seen a lot of live theatre and I was extremely impressed with how quick they identified anyone using their mobile phones and were instantly dealing with this, as well as remaining in the theatre throughout the performance. Well Done All!
Dreamgirls is the perfect night out and a great way to see the talent that plays in the West End. This is a show I can see being around for a long while as it continues to delight audiences who keep going back for more. With standing ovations at both the interval and finale it is clear that this show is one to see. It is currently booking up to October 2017, due to it’s recent opening there aren’t many cheaper tickets on offer at the moment. However you may wish to download the TodayTix app and enter the lottery (on the day) for your chance to win front row tickets for £15! Further details about the show can be found on The Dreamgirls website.