Dreamgirls @ Savoy Theatre
Wednesday 22/11/17 (Matinee)
Cast Includes Marisha Wallace as Effie White
Running Time: 2 hours 40 mins inc. interval
Dreamgirls took a long time to make it to the West End – though it debuted on Broadway in 1981, it only opened last year on the West End with Amber Riley in the title role of Effie White. It has recently celebrated a year in the Savoy with a new cast, including 3 Effies – in the performance in question, the role was played by Marisha Wallace (who has been Alternate Effie the past year).
Dreamgirls charts the story of three aspiring young hopefuls as they make their way to charts success in the 1960’s, and has been highly influenced by the real life story of the Supremes. The story tackles the issues of race and feminism in music in the 1960s’ and the way that artists were treated in the era, as well as Effie’s story of being forced from the lead singer and the ensuing arguments in the group this causes. The piece has been updated for this new presentation, adding music from the 2006 movie.
The piece works superbly as a whole – the songs really support the story, as well as progressing the plot, especially in numbers such as ‘One Night Only’ where the vying styles of Effie and The Dreams are presented and the competition for the chart is shown through the music. It also has some really great standout numbers, such as the aforementioned ’One Night Only’, as well the titular ‘Dreamgirls’, ‘Listen’ (added from the film, with reworked lyrics) and ‘And I Am Telling You’. Due to the high amount of music in the show, certain songs are less memorable, though this is not to the detriment of the show.
The show works so well due to the strength of the cast, especially due to the leads. Marisha Wallace, playing Effie was phenomenal, especially during her big songs such as ‘And I’m Am Telling You’ where she gives a huge, powerhouse performance. She is able supported by Brennyn Lark as Deena Jones, and their interplay during ‘Listen’ is amazing. The other cast is also all uniformly strong, so much so that it would be difficult to pick out any other cast members.
Casey Nicholaw’s direction and choreography really brings the piece to life – the piece is slick and well-paced, which also goes for the transitions between songs and scenes, which effortlessly switch with thanks to the set (money has obviously been spent on this) and the show has a feeling of vitality, freshness and excitement.
Summary: A fresh cast scores a success for this Broadway legend. A stylish and elegant hit. *****