THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH & TOUR – UNTIL FEBRUARY 2023
BOX OFFICE 01752 267222
RUNNING TIME – 2 HOURS 20 MINUTES (INCLUDING INTERVAL)
27 JULY 2022
Despite the initial denials of the creators of DREAMGIRLS, there can be no doubt that it was heavily influenced by Motown and the music of Diana Ross, the Supremes and Berry Gordy. Set in the 1960s, the ups and downs, the quarrels and love lives of three singers is played out as times and attitudes change. Originally seen on Broadway in 1981, the show is now in the midst of a UK tour in a very well-staged production.
Choc-a-block full of glittering costumes, shimmery sets and loud (very loud) voices, this is a fairly full-throttle show with the dialogue presented both sung and spoken – semi-opera maybe? Add to this some excellently sharp dancing and good period choreography and you have a heady mix to sit back and enjoy.
Natalie Kassanga has charisma and a lovely voice as Deena Jones – the ‘Ross’ part who takes over fronting the ‘Dreamettes/Dreams’ from Effie White as played by Nicole Raquel Dennis – the owner of a barnstorming voice, whose emotional rendition of several songs brought some of the audience to its feet. Paige Peddie takes on the third member of the group, Lorrell Robinson, with her feet firmly placed in the comedy role, and she creates a good contrast with the other two.
Brandon Lee Sears has huge fun – and is very entertaining – with his vocal and physical gymnastics as Jimmy Early and Matt Mills is vocally strong as the demanding and unsympathetic manager Curtis Taylor Jr.
The ensemble work is of an extremely high standard and the singing throughout is very good.
The story is, however, very underwritten and fails to engage on anything other than a surface level. Yes, you can have singers belting out songs until your ears bleed, but if the characters are created so superficially, you will never care about them. This is a pity as the outline plot – and the reality – is intriguing and very interesting. Maybe excise some of the songs to create a piece with more depth.
As already mentioned, the staging is smart and stylish and full credit to the band for keeping up the momentum, though the music itself is largely unmemorable.
A perfectly entertaining show, but overblown in some areas and sadly lacking in others.
CAST & CREATIVES
EFFIE WHITE – NICOLE RAQUEL DENNIS
DEENA JONES – NATALIE KASSANGA
LORRELL ROBINSON – PAIGE PEDDIE
CURTIS TAYLOR JR – MATT MILLS
JIMMY EARLY – BRANDON LEE SEARS
C C WHITE – SHEM OMARI JAMES
MARTY – JO SERVI
MICHELLE MORRIS – BRIANNA OGUNBAWO
MC/JERRY – CHRISTOPHER GOPAUL
LIL ALBERT – SAMUEL NICHOLAS
TINY JOE DIXON – DAVID MAIRS-MCKENZIE
WAYNE – LUKAS HUNT
CADILLAC CAR SINGER – JOSH SINGLETON
ENSEMBLE – OLIVIA FOSTER-BROWNE, KELLIANNA JAY, MARLEE JAY, RYAN KAYODE, HOLLY LIBURD, ROSS MEAGROW, NICOLE NYARAMBI, ILANA RICHARDSON
BOOK & LYRICS – TOM EYEN
MUSIC – HENRY KRIEGER
DIRECTOR & CHOREOGRAPHER – CASEY NICHOLAW
SET & COSTUME DESIGN – TIM HATLEY
LIGHTING DESIGN – HUGH VANSTONE
SOUND DESIGN – RICHARD BROOKER
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – SIMONA BUDD