The Dreamgirls have arrived in the West End. Possibly one of the most highly anticipated musical productions of the year the show has now opened at the Savoy Theatre.
Known to most through the 2006 American musical film starring Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls tells the story of a girl group called The Dreams in the 1960s and 1970s. Although a work of fiction the narrative takes strong inspiration from the history of the Motown record label and one of its acts, The Supremes.
Making her West End debut as Effie White is Glee’s Amber Riley. And what a West End debut this is. Amber’s Effie is fierce and funny, emotional and heartbreaking. Her voice is nothing short of incredible. I am not someone who gives mid show standing ovations easily but here I jumped to my feet with the rest of the audience after “And I am telling you I’m not going”. This woman is a star – that is all I have to say.
Liisi LaFontaine plays Deena Jones and even though it is tough to stand out next to a tour de force like Amber Riley she manages to deliver a first class performance. The same goes for Ibinabo Jack as Lorrell Robinson, the third member of The Dreams. And while Lily Frazer (Michelle Morris, the singer who joins the band later on) does not seem to be on the same vocal level as Amber, Liisi and Ibinabo she blends in well in what is effectively a slightly thankless role.
Joe Aaron Reid returns to the West End stage after playing the role of Benny in In the Heights to rave reviews. His Curtis Taylor Jr. is a bad guy you simply love to hate. The chemistry between him and Amber’s Effie is wonderful and he tops off his performance with a voice smooth as velvet.
There are so many stand-out performances in this production but one that needs a special mention is without a doubt Adam J. Bernard’s Jimmy Early. One has to ask where he gets his energy from – I was exhausted just watching him.
I cannot fault anyone in this production. Sure, the eyes are on Amber Riley a lot of the time, but this is a cast full of talented individuals who all deliver performances at the highest level. They work together brilliantly and clearly put their heart and soul into the show.
The colourful costumes, a simple but effective set plus choreography that makes you want to get up and dance round off a production that is just what the West End needs.
This show is a triumph – nothing more, nothing less. Go get your tickets! This is one of the “must see” shows of the season.
For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.dreamgirlswestend.com/