Direct from the West End, the latest adaptation of the multi-award-winning Dreamgirls really did transport the audience into a dream-like state – a dream filled with soul, sass, a whole lot of sequins, and some truly spine-tingling singing.
The story follows three soulful songstresses, The Dreams, who ride the wave of the turbulent music industry in the 1960s, as they experience the ups and downs of sex, love, fame, and the ruthlessness of the industry they all love. The trio (Effie, Lorrell and Deena) each negotiate through their own trials and tribulations, which makes for interesting parallel storytelling.
Many will be familiar with the story from the 2006 film adaptation of the same name, starring Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson.
Although strenuously denied by the original creators Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen since the show’s inception in 1981, the storyline is echoingly similar to the lives and loves of Diana Ross and The Supremes, even down to the smallest nuances. However, for me, the show having a grounding in truth made it resonate with me so much more. I think the book was a little weak in places and given the incredible vocal performance of the cast it was hard to follow all the lyrics at times, which sometimes left small gaps in the storyline.
That said, a show of this calibre requires – nay, demands – an all-singing, all-dancing, all-star cast. And that’s what the audience of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens received in spades. Every single performer on that stage had sublime vocals, and high-octane moves that you couldn’t divert your eyes from for even a moment. The acting did in parts leave something to be desired – but this was more than forgivable when you consider the strength of their vocal and visual performances.
Although everyone in the cast gave a wonderful performance, by far and away the best standout of the cast was Nicole Raquel Dennis as Effie White, whose rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” gave me actual chills. Not only were her vocals exquisite throughout such a difficult song, but you could also feel the raw emotion with every note she struck.
Another notable performance was given by Brandon Lee Sears as Jimmy Early, who gave nothing short of 110% to his role. His vocals, his movements, and his acting were pitch perfect.
From a production standpoint, you can tell that no expense was spared to make this production as appealing to the eye as to the ear. You know that no expense was spared when the production team includes not one, but FOUR members allocated to wigs alone!
A special commendation to Suzanne Runciman as Head of Wardrobe, who brought both the swinging sixties and the magic of Motown to life with more sequins, feather boas and floor-length sparkles than you can shake a stick at. But to me, this really did elevate the show into something magical.
In short, Dreamgirls is a riot of sound, colour, sets, and incredible vocals – if you love music done right, this is definitely the show for you!
Dreamgirls is on at Winter Gardens in Blackpool from Tuesday 25th October to Saturday 5th November 2022. https://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/
Reviewer: Hannah Wilde
Reviewed: 26th October 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★