March 14, 2018
When we were invited to a performance of Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, it was hard to say no. The show has received rave reviews since opening in late 2016 and although the cast has changed a little since the revival arrived in London, it’s still a spectacular show for all the family.
Without spoiling anything, the story of Dreamgirls takes place in the 1950s and concerns a trio of singers known as The Dreamettes. They cannot wait for the day when they are finally discovered and headline shows around the US. As their career begins to take off, not everything occurs in a way that they might have wished with infighting, management disputes and other issues constantly putting their friendship to the test.
Heavily alluding to the golden age of Motown, you can’t help but watch Dreamgirls and think of the most powerful voices in the music industry from years gone by. Whitney Houston, Beyonce (she actually took one of the main roles in the film version of Dreamgirls in 2005)… These songs were written to be belted out by a trio of incredible singers. Thankfully the West End cast are more than able to pull off such a feat with Marisha Wallace singing her lungs out in the role of Effie White. It’s a demanding role and on the night we watched, she was receiving standing ovations throughout the show!
Brennyn Lark and Asmeret Ghebremichael took on the other Dreamette roles and it’s easy to see why; these three singers really are absolutely superb with a chemistry to match. In terms of the rest of the cast, Joe Aaron Reid was astoundingly charismatic as their manager, Curtis, whilst Tosh Wanogho-Maud brought in the laughs with his take on Jimmy Early, a solo singer who bears more than a passing resemblance to James Brown and has all the best lines and the reactions to go with them!
The Savoy Theatre is a marvellous setting for this musical, though we were somewhat taken aback by the sound; it feels as though are ears are still recovering! Perhaps turning down the speakers a tad wouldn’t go amiss. The intimate feeling of the theatre somehow manages to enhance the effectiveness of the story, but don’t go in thinking this is a dumbed down show. It definitely is not with a whole heap of cash thrown at the set. There’s light a plenty and the glitter—Well, we recommend you take some sunglasses when you go!
Yes, there’s lot of sparkle and glamour – the marketing for the show should definitely have been a clue – and the costumes are absolutely on point. But how was the music? That is, after all, what we go to a musical to hear. You’ll be glad to know it’s great with ballads, soul, pop and r n’ b all combining to create a fully formed show that you’ll be desperate to hear once again the moment the curtain comes down!
All in all, we highly recommend Dreamgirls and can certainly see why it won so many Tony Awards back in the early eighties when it first premiered. It’s a timeless production and one that we think the vast majority of you will enjoy. Just remember to take some earbuds and you’ll have a great time!
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By Henry Fosdike