Dreamgirls tells the tale of 3 black women, powerfully-voiced Effie, Gorgeous Deena, and the youngest, sassy little Lorrell, all desperate to break into the music business during the 1960’s. The story is very similar to the that of Diana Ross and The Supremes. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, Dreamgirls began life as a Broadway musical in 1981, but is perhaps better known for its 2006 film adaptation starring Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, and Eddie Murphy.
For years I have loved watching this film with my mum so when bored the other day I started scrolling through the theatre shows on my app Today Tix and I saw Dreamgirls listed with tickets from £18. Straight away I mentioned it to my mum and we decided to go and see it Friday night.
The show began with a number of laughs before Effie, Deena, and Lorrell put on their puffy little apricot dresses and wow us with their first musical number. All 3 women have beautifully strong voices which received a strong applause from the audience, but it truly is Effie’s number, “And You’re Gonna Love Me” that stole the hearts of every soul within the theatre, ending with a well-deserved standing ovation.
As many fans of the film, I was looking forward to the second half of the show for the song, “Listen” performed by Deena’s character. In the film, her fame-hungry husband has the nerve to tell her he wanted her to be the lead singer purely because she was pretty and her voice wasn’t powerful or strong enough and therefore making her appeal to the richer white audiences. “Listen” is an extremely powerful number Deena performs after this confrontation and it is a massive part of the film giving this shy little character a real sense of independence and strength as she finally learns her worth. In the show, while still a beautiful song, it is a duet between Effie and Deena as the two women ask each other for forgiveness. While I did love this version and still found it incredibly powerful and deserving of it’s standing ovation, I really felt that the film was better at capturing the emotion in this classic song.
The theatre show also had me questioning what happened to character Jimmy who was just kind of faded out after his breakdown. In the film, there is a massive subplot with drugs and it really brings out a whole new emotional feeling to how the music industry treated black artists during the 60’s/70’s (and the years surrounding too!)
The choreography of the entire show was fantastic, particularly the men’s number of “Steppin’ To The Bad Side”. There was a range of glorious costumes for the women and the whole of the show was filled with enough shimmer and glimmer to land a plane!
Overall, I would recommend seeing the show as it truly was a rollercoaster of sass and powerful ballads, but perhaps don’t set your hopes too high if you’re a die-hard fan of the film, because it may just feel like there’s a little something missing.