Dreamgirls: Savoy Theatre, London
Reviewed 12th March 2018
Phenomenal vocals, sublime choreography and dazzling costumes! What more could you want? This is a show which just gets better with each visit. Dreamgirls has been taking the West End by storm since 2016 – winning several awards including two Olivier Awards in 2017. Telling the story of The Dreams – three talented singers in the 1960’s as they journey through a musical and emotional rollercoaster. They find out about fame, fortune and the ruthlessness of show business whilst testing their friendship. Filled with memorable, show stoppers such as ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’, ‘Listen’ and ‘One Night Only’ it is a feast for the eyes and ears.
The new 2017-2018 cast are just sublime. Marisha Wallace (previous alternate Effie) is a vocal power-horse! The audience are left picking their jaws up off the floor on many occasion. Not only can she belt and riff her way through any song she is also able to switch the volume down and sing from the heart. Her characterisation is very different to former Glee-star Amber Riley. She is much more likeable, the emotions shown throughout the show are truly believable and she manages to make the audience feel more empathy with the character. Marisha puts everything into each performance and it completely pays off; sucking in the audience and leaving them hanging on her every note.
Another newcomer to the line up is Brennyn Lark as Deena. Making her West End stage debut she, like Marisha, has superb vocal talents. The harmonies and ‘riff-off’ between the two characters in ‘Listen‘ is fantastic. Her relationships with the other characters are believable, in particular her relationship with Curtis played by Joe Aaron Reid. Joe does a fine job of mixing his smooth tone and fantastic dance skills in with the subtle sinister characteristics of Curtis. The journey this character has is just as large as the main character, Effie and Joe plays it effortlessly.
Kimmy Edwards steps up to become Michelle Morris and excels in the role for which she previously understudied. Durone Stokes also makes a welcome addition as C. C. White, Effie’s younger brother. On the night of this review Lorrell Robinson was played by the 1st cover, Jayde Nelson, who did a fantastic job. Her comic timing, especially during ‘My Party‘ and the scenes with Jimmy Early is fantastic. Once again it seems that Jayde is no exception and everyone in this production is an enormously talented performer. Literally all of this cast are amazing and the enthusiasm and passion is shown on stage.
Another outstanding performance comes from Tosh Wanogho-Maud as Jimmy Early. Tosh previously understudied the role and had big boots to fill following in the footsteps of Adam J Bernard who won an Olivier for Best Male in a Supporting Role in 2017. There need be no worry. He is fantastic! This comic character is needed to offset all of the drama and Tosh has this in masses. His hilarious, eye catching dancing and the outstanding vocals definitely rival his former backing singers ‘The Dreams’.
The whole show is just gorgeous. The costumes by Gregg Barnes are exquisite, intricate and completely in keeping with the era and style of the 1960’s. The choreography by Casey Nicholaw, especially during ‘Step Into The Bad Side‘ is sublime and reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s iconic moves. The lighting, by Hugh Vanstone, is some of the best seen currently on the West End. It is magnificient and completely makes this show stand out from the rest. It’s memorable and helps frame each scene. The use of the stage, including limited props and the innovative way that the stage is shown as both on and off-stage is an interesting concept and through the use of the automation and lights this is seamless.
Currently booking until September 2018 this is the show not to miss. It is dazzling and beautiful to watch. The plot takes the audience on a whole journey. But what makes this show stand out from the crowd is the music and talent on stage. The songs will make your heart race, skin tingle and jaw drop. Do not miss this outstanding production!
To read my previous review of Dreamgirls in April 2017 click here.
Photo Credit: Dewynters and Brinkhoff/Mogenburg