REVIEW: DREAMGIRLS (Savoy Theatre) ★★★★

The 1981, Tony Award winning Musical Dreamgirls is probably best known for the 2006 film adaption starring Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson. The show is based on the black girl groups of the sixties like The Supremes, trying to become mainstream artists, in a world dominated by men and white music.

The Dreamettes (Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson) go on tour with popular singer Jimmy Early, as his backing singers and become quite a success. Eventually the girls break away from being backing singers and go on a well received, solo tour. Effie’s boyfriend and Dreamettes manager Curtis, swaps Effie (who has always been the lead singer) with Deena to take the lead in order to created a more mainstream sound, but when Effie finds out that he has also been having his wicked way with Deena behind her back, things get heated and Effie gets sacked from the band. Deena and the Dreams go on to be a huge success, whilst Effie struggles to get taken seriously as an artist because of her well known, volitile behaviour. But years later, can the girls put their differences to one side and reform for a special reunion show?

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There is something about this musical that I just can’t put my finger on. As soon as the lights went down in the auditorium, the energy was electric and the audience were buzzing. The show had a massive three standing ovations throughout the show and people were in tears. Is it the music people are so affected by, the film, or just the fact a girl from TV show Glee is in the show? I couldn’t work it out.

The first half of Act One was quite slow and the music didn’t grab my attention. However, the last four or five songs in the first half really picked up.  Family, Dreamgirls and then the show-stopping arguement-through-song It’s All Over going straight into And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going, make it worth waiting for. Act Two features the classic Listen and my personal favourite One Night Only.

Amber Riley is both a brilliant actress and incredible singer and blows the roof off of the Savoy Theatre. She gives the part everything she has and was a great casting choice. Equally, Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack (as Deena and Lorrell) have sublime vocal abilities and all three have their moments to shine. Tyrone Huntley as Effie’s brother C. C. White, really makes an impression, commanding the stage every time he is on it. Adam J. Bernard is comical as the over the top singer Jimmy Early and provides the humour for the show, along with Ibinabo Jack as Lorrell.

After more than thirty years of waiting, Dreamgirls has finally opened in the West End after months of anticipation and excitement from theatre goers (the show managed to shortlisted for five awards after only four preview shows which is unbelievable!) Overall it’s a great show and you won’t be left disappointed. A bit slow to get going but it makes up for it by the end.

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photos: BRINKHOFF/MÖGENBURG

DREAMGIRLS is playing at the Savoy Theatre until 6 May 2017. Tickets