So if you follow my Facebook, you’ll know that my mum planned an amazing Christmas surprise for me in December and I had no idea whatsoever. She did an incredible job and took me to see Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, a show I’ve been desperate to see since it announced its opening. If you’re debating whether or not to see the production, I highly recommend you do! I can honestly admit that is it one of, if not the, best piece of theatre I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching!
The show tells the story of a dynamic trio, known as ‘The Dreams’, hailing from Chicago and we follow their journey into the music industry and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. The girls are initially hired to sing back up for Jimmy ‘Thunder’ Early and then branch off into a thriving career of their own, but not everything works out as well as they hoped. Changes start to occur within the group, causing friction between members and management and results with one girl leaving and being replaced. But its not all doom and gloom, as the show comes to an end, the girls realise how much they need one another and come together to perform one last time. It’s undoubtedly an emotional journey, but I’d happily take that same route again and again!
With a show where there is a named star leading the cast, in this case the incredible Amber Riley, you can guarantee that you’re in for a treat and boy did we get one. As soon as she stepped out on to the stage, she was greeted by rapturous applause from the audience and we knew that this was going to be something special. The trio of girls- Effie, Deena and Lorrell- worked perfectly together and their voices were to die for. From the tight harmonies to the elegant movements, these girls were everything I expected and so much more. This coupled with their male counterparts ensured that this would be a show we would never forget.
Joe Aaron Reid was the perfect Curtis Taylor Jr. with just the right amount of cold shoulder but all the charm of a man working his way to the top. His client, Jimmy ‘Thunder’ Early was played by Tosh Wanogho-Maud (who is actually the understudy) and I loved his character from start to finish. How he kept up that level of performance through such a vocally and physically challenging show I’ll never know but his performance was definitely one of my favourites throughout. His emotional duet with Lorrell (Ibiano Jack) pulled at all the right heartstrings and we were there in the moment with them throughout. Tyrone Hutley was fabulous as Effie’s songwriter brother C.C White and had all the ‘cheeky chappy’ qualities that a part like this requires. The entire cast was incredible, with the ensemble working perfectly alongside the rest of the cast, but for me there was two unforgettable performances in that theatre- Liisi LaFontaine and Amber Riley (Deena and Effie respectively).
Unfortunately, Amber Riley was taken ill at the interval, but that wasn’t until she’d smashed her way through a powerhouse of songs and left us all speechless. Every time she sang a note I was on the edge of my seat in awe. Its almost magical when you’ve admired someone for so long and then there you are watching them perform live, but when it came to her rendition of ‘And I’m Telling You’, it was just something else. I have never seen so much passion in a song and I wept with, for and about her throughout the number. If I’m honest, I highly doubt there was a dry eye in the theatre. That performance is something that will stay with me and I’ve already been watching her live performances in an attempt to relive it again! This was my favourite number in the show and received a well deserved standing ovation at the end. Now, despite Amber being taken ill at the interval, her replacement- Karen Mav- gave an outstanding performance, something that can’t have been easy after being told only a few minutes before that she had to go on and take Amber’s place. She blew the roof off with her performance of ‘I Am Changing’, but the real pivotal moment in act two, for me, was the ‘Listen’ duet she performed alongside Liisi LaFontaine. Liisi’s vocals and performance were amazing throughout, there’s no denying that, but when she performed this number with Ms Mav, it was just insane. The two were making amends for fallings out they had had earlier on in the show and reunited in the most gorgeous way. The number was stunning and was finished with another standing ovation, once again well deserved.
I had an incredible afternoon watching Dreamgirls and would urge anyone considering it to seize the chance and grab a ticket. The entire cast are incredible and the understudies absolutely smashed it. I had such an amazing time, so a huge thanks to my mum for the best surprise ever!
Even if you go for one night only, I’m telling you you’re going to love it!