BWW Reviews: DREAMGIRLS Dazzles in Bridgeport
Dreamgirls Dazzles in Bridgeport
Bridgeport Theatre Company, soon to celebrate four years since it was founded, is presenting Dreamgirls, the big, bold, groundbreaking musical. The Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen show premiered in 1981 and is loosely based on Diana Ross and The Supremes and other singers who helped make Motown a huge crossover success. More than 30 years later, it is still a terrific show, but a little cutting would make it easier for today's audiences to digest.
Still, this ambitious production hits all the right chords at the Bridgeport Downtown Cabaret. The huge company is cast perfectly. Danielle Summons portrays Deena Jones believably from a timid young woman to a star. Ryan Elle is and Jessica Paige are marvelous as her backup singers. Everton Ricketts as Marty and Garth West were excellent as Marty, the other manager, and CC White, the composer.
Three performers own this show - Sean Davis as Jimmy "Thunder" Early, Khallid Anthony Graham as the Dreams' manager, Curtis Taylor, Jr., who skillfully navigating the changing music scene and making sure he and his clients are going to the top, and Alana Cauthen as Effie White. Davis is fantastic as Jimmy, whose career wanes over the years. He acts, he sings, he dances well and he is the only reason why Jimmy's solo numbers in the second act of this production should not be cut. Edit elsewhere. They all command the stage with great charisma and amazing singing voices. (The role of Effie is played by Acacia Cannon at the 5:00 p.m. matinees.) These roles are dream roles, and they are ideal for the role. Cauthen's heart-wrenching version of the song "One Night Only" eclipses the disco version that most people know.
Kudos to director Christy McIntosh for bringing this huge production to perfection, to Emily Frangipane for her superb choreography, to Stephanie Gaumer and Sarah Paige Morris for the musical direction, to Jessica Camarero for the costumes, and to Damon Testani for the projections that added so much to the Doug Frawley's set design.
The only problem is that the Downtown Cabaret Theatre's cabaret-style seating is inadequate. This show is a sell-out and people are sitting sometimes uncomfortable close to those at table next to them. The Bridgeport Theatre Company has been ascending as the Dreams have in Dreamgirls. I think the Board needs to reconsider the seating in the future. Perhaps they should ditch the tables in order to accommodate bigger audiences unless they can extend the show's run. But that's a nice problem to have.
Dreamgirls runs through February 1. Don't. Miss. It. 263 Golden Hill Avenue, Bridgeport. 203-576-1636. www.BridgeportTheatre.org