About Time You Saw: DreamgirlsBy Gilly Hopper
Dreamgirls the movie, starring Beyoncé and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, reintroduced the musical, loosely based on the Supremes, to the public’s consciousness. Because of it, hits like ‘Listen’ and ‘And I am Telling You I’m Not Going’ now well engrained in our subconscious. 35 years since its Broadway debut, the show has finally crossed the Atlantic, and while neither its score, by Tom Eyen, nor its story, by Henry Krieger, remain the surprise they once were, the secret of “Dreamgirls” – the human voice – is unequivocal, retaining its ability to stir and scintillate the audience.
Glee’s Amber Riley as Effie White is proof that the effect of Dreamgirls cannot be diminished. Audiences at the Savoy Theatre were on side from the first moment Riley’s toes touched the stage floor. Some patrons even hovered on their seats, forcing their hands to wait until the song concluded to expel their gratitude; such was the rapture with which Riley was received. Act 1’s finale, ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” transcends all comprehension as the larynx runs free and the audience goes wild. Riley’s commanding performance conceded in a half time standing ovation. Without doubt, the musical core of the show rallies us all.
And more than rally us, director Casey Nicholaw’s (“The Book of Mormon,” “Aladdin”) production literally dazzles. Tim Hatley’s designs are riddled with sparkles and the design memo carries through to Gregg Barne’s costumes – from tuxedo jackets rivaling GUCCI’s Alessandro Michele to Swarovski clad ball gowns – which travel from the innocence of the 1960s to the shimmering decadence of the 1970s.
The remarkable young cast is a testimony to abounding talents. Liisi La Fontaine as Deena Jones is paced and poised in her rise to fame, peaking in the duet ‘Listen.’ Ibinabo Jack shows her comedic chops as Lorrell Robinson and Tyrone Huntley shines bright amongst the male cast as CC White (no surprise there, he’s Effie’s brother after all!) But in essence, Dreamgirls is really Riley’s show, proving what we already knew – she is truly a supreme being.
Dreamgirls is at the Savoy Theatre until October 2017.