Friday, December 1

Dreamgirls – Liverpool Empire

In its simplest form Dreamgirls is a story about dreams. It asks the question of how far people will go to get them, will they step on the dreams of others to get them. Add to this the backdrop of how people have historically stolen other people dreams in the music industry, and you have a story with depth, soul and glamour.

One thing is for absolutely sure, and that is that Dreamgirls has all the ingredients to be an incredible piece of theatre; show-stopping songs, an important historical backdrop, fascinating characters, dance numbers, and Effie White. The only question you have to ask yourself is whether this production would succeed at getting the recipe right.

The answer is a resounding yes. This production of Dreamgirls is without a doubt one of the best shows to come to Liverpool for a long time. It was visually and audibly stunning. Huge congratulations to everybody involved.

The vocals from start to finish were exquisite, with the standout performance of the night being ‘And I am telling you’ sung by Nicole Raquel Dennis in the role of Effie White. This aria is always a stand out moment, but on this occasion, it was so emotionally moving and vocally controlled that the standing ovation at the end of it was well deserved. Natalie Kassanga as Deena Jones and Paige Peddie as Lorrell Robinson provided Dennis with contrast so desperately needed for this show. The one and only complaint for this show could be that the symmetry of the three was often slightly off – the central Dream was quite often too far stage left.

The rest of the company also did an excellent job, and the story was told with such heart and soul that it is easy to see why this ever popular musical makes another return to UK stages. Brandon Lee Sears in the role of Jimmy Early highlighted moments both comedy and poignant – the audience sat up in their seats every time Sears came on stage. Sears is an all-singing, all-dancing, all-acting superstar and he lights up the stage in any production you find him in.

Dom Hartley-Harris as Curtis Taylor Jr. provided a character of depth and complexity – so desperate to find his own Dream that he ultimately orchestrates his own downfall.

Picture: West End Production

One of the strongest visual successes of this production is the colour palate. Every scene is beautifully considered, and the costumes always matched beautifully. ‘Step in to the bad side’ was a perfect example of this, which has a routine, backdrop, lighting, costumes and vocals of the very highest quality. Tim Hatley and his costume and lighting design deserve all plaudits, the visual effect of the show was stunning.

The orchestra also contributed to the magnificent production, wonderfully led by Simona Budd. The clarity and quality of the music and singing was very high quality, so additional congratulations to the sound team.

Dreamgirls is a phenomenal show, well worthy of these five stars, and everybody around the UK needs to see it when it comes to a location near you. It plays in Liverpool until January 1st, and then embarks on a UK tour throughout 2022.

Reviewer: Andrew Lee

Reviewed: 21st December 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★