“A full throttle, technicolour singathalon of a production”
A whopping thirty five years since it sashayed onto Broadway and ten since it catapulted Jennifer Hudson to Oscar glory in its big screen adaptation Dreamgirls has finally crossed the Atlantic to leave its mark on West End audiences. Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs a full throttle, technicolour singathalon of a production with the original Broadway music by Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen.
Dreamgirls sets out its stall of showstopping vocals, glitz and razzmatazz from the very first note. It’s a world of flamboyant costumes, big dance routines and vocals that sing your face off! Bold sequinned costumes, big hair and even bigger personalities colour the path of go-getting girl group the Dreamettes, their determined former Cadillac salesman manager and womanizing singer Jimmy Early. Dialogue is keep to what is strictly necessary – why say it when you can sing it after all?!
The gaze of the audience falls on the backstage dramas and struggle to the top of the Dreamettes, where a tale of high emotion, soap opera drama and steely ambition are played out to an intoxicating cocktail of belting disco and R&B numbers.
Curtis Taylor JR, the Dreamettes shiny suit sporting Manager has his eyes firmly gripped on mainstream chart success and media domination. The Dreamettes are rebranded as The Dreams and powerhouse lead vocalist, the fiery and strong Effie White is relegated to backing singer as the slender Deena Jones takes her place both on and off stage as lead singer and Taylor’s new lover.
Rage and rebellion fuel Effie’s drive to reclaim what is rightfully hers, resulting in the roof raising rendition of ‘And I am telling you I’m not going’ which neatly captures the heart and ferocity of the fight of this trio who battle to take their music to the mainstream and forge their names in musical history.
This London opening delivers by the bucket load and bears all the hallmarks of a new West End classic. If the true measure of a musical’s staying power is powerhouse vocal and a hummable memorable score, this show gets its rubberstamped seal of approval before the curtain even falls on act one.
Review by Christopher Hall
Dreamgirls is at the Savoy Theatre, London. Tickets available online at http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dreamgirls/savoy-theatre/
Tickets here from £20 http://www.theatreperform.entstix.com/tickets/dreamgirls