A reviews round-up of Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre
Thirty-five years after storming Broadway, the smash-hit musical Dreamgirls has finally opened in London’s West End.
The musical charts the rise of an American R&B “girl” group with distinct similarities to Diana Ross and the Supremes. Featuring classic songs ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’ and ‘One Night Only’ the musical was famously made into a film starring Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Fox.
Glee’s Amber Riley stars as Effie White, the lead singer of The Dreams who is sidelined for the prettier and less talented Deena Jones played American Liisi LaFontaine.
Riley’s power-house vocals and assured stage presence delivers a dazzling performance as do Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack who hold their own.
Tim Hat’s design and Gregg Barnes costumes are well received for their scale, detail and splashes of ‘outrageous colour’ and as in Nicholaw’s Aladdin, Swarovski have partnered with the design team and the million plus Swarovski crystals give plenty of dazzle.
Wth book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger, the production is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier award-winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Something Rotten!), with design by Tim Hatley, costume by Gregg Barnes, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Richard Brooker.
Here’s a round-up of the reviews.
Dreamgirls is booking until 10 February 2018 at the Savoy Theatre.
REVIEWS ROUND-UP"a show with tremendous gusto of soul and gaiety of spirit" "Without question, Riley is the biggest reason to buy a ticket: she makes even the more ordinary numbers (music by Henry Krieger, lyrics by Tom Eyen) sound like show-stoppers and when she reaches the first half’s absolute belter, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”, packed with hurt, defiance and soulful passion, she has the audience rising to applaud her. What a voice!" "This is not a show that majors in narrative sophistication or even significant dialogue (some conversational exchanges are sung) but her comically expressive, hands-on-hips “attitude” and wounded cry of “What about me?” lend solidity to the fluff." "Broadway director Casey Nicholaw’s slick production is so tinselly, it almost looks custom-built for Christmas. It glitters and twinkles like an Aladdin’s cave, with beaded curtains, backdrops as sparkly as quartz and more deluxe costume-changes than there are days in December (some executed at baffling speed)." Dominic Maxwell - The Telegraph
"From the first swish of a lime-green, sequinned fishtail skirt to the megawatt smiles of ambitious girl group the Dreamettes and the shiny suits of their manager, a former Cadillac salesman, Dreamgirls is a musical full of sparkle. It’s less about the grit and sweat of the struggle to the top, more a fantastically entertaining ride on the showbiz rollercoaster, accompanied by some brilliantly belting voices." "On a stage full of great singers, gutsy Riley is a notch above them all, underplaying her melismatic skill, her voice switching from a dagger to a whisper." Lyndsey Winship - The Guardian
"London has had to wait 35 years for the arrival of the Broadway hit Dreamgirls – but it has been worth the wait. While Michael Bennett's original 1981 staging remains indelible – in my memory, one of the greatest Broadway productions I've ever seen – another Broadway hoofer turned director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw both respects and amplifies some of its thrilling innovations." "The plot of Tom Eyen's book may feel a little blunt and obvious, but the irresistible joy of Dreamgirls lies in a score by Henry Krieger that is a magnificent parade of original hits." "Tim Hatley's designs - Simultaneously epic yet detailed: there are splashes of outrageous colour, like a shimmering crystal curtain or a glittering backdrop that Hugh Vanstone's lighting re-colours repeatedly." "The vocal performances of the large company are amazing. Glee’s Amber Riley is an absolute dazzler as Effie. She has an assured stage presence that is both formidable and wrenching as she tears into her big songs and wins several mid-performance ovations and even standing ovations. " Mark Shenton - The Stage
"Amber Riley blows everybody else away in this '60s girl group musical" Alice Saville - TimeOut
"Dreamgirls is dazzling — a lavish and richly emotional musical that depicts fantasies of freedom and the price of success." "The show’s undoubted star is Amber Riley, once of TV’s Glee, whose voice is huge and ardent yet also capable of delicate understatement. Her most gasp-inducing moments come during the anthem ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, but it’s a performance that’s at all times exhilarating." "Adam J Bernard is an athletic and vocally attractive Early, while Joe Aaron Reid’s Curtis radiates menace and ugly ambition. There’s charming, sensitive work from Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack as Effie’s fellow Dreamettes — and Tyrone Huntley brings a quiet magnetism to Effie’s songwriting brother CC." "Director Casey Nicholaw's fluent interpretation boasts gorgeous costumes and choreography tighter than a lobster’s shell. But it’s the dynamic performances that propel this passionate musical, and Amber Riley’s is as thrilling as any I can recall" Henry Hitchings - Evening Standard