DREAMGIRLS – Theatre Royal Plymouth


27 July 2022

3***

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, CHRISTOPHER GOPAUL, LUKAS HUNT, KELLIANNA JAY, MARLEE JAY, RYAN KAYODE, HOLLY LIBURD, DAVID MAIRS-MCKENZIE, ROSS MEAGROW, SAMUEL NICHOLAS, NICOLE NYARAMBI, ILANA RICHARDSON, JOSH SINGLETON


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

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