BWW Reviews: Fall In Love With Circle Players' DREAMGIRLS
It's the people that matter in Circle Players and Tennessee State University's production of Dreamgirls. The cast stood out far beyond any other aspect of the show. It was the actors' interpretations that made the show come alive and their voices that left you in awe song after song.
Dreamgirls is the story of The Dreams, Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, climbing their way to the top of the music industry in the 1960's. It follows their struggles, singles, and stardom all with the sounds and soul of Motown.
The performance I went to unfortunately began with a little technical difficulty in which the sound was cutting in and out, but when it was resolved during the song "Move." It was then heard a voice that I knew would keep me captivated for the next three hours. Christina Fentress, as Effie White, gave me chills during the first few lines she sang. I knew the show would make it, even if the sound went back out, because with a voice as big as hers she easily filled the entire theater.
After listening to Fentress in the first song, I knew the other actors had a lot to live up to. At first I thought they all would take a back seat to Fentress but as the show progressed, my theory was quickly disproven. One by one, each performer had their moment and all the leads showed they were flawless. LaToya Gardners's money notes blew me back into my seat at the end of the first act in "It's All Over." Kelsey Porter, as Deena Jones really took the stage during the second act in every song she sang as lead of the Dreams. Max Dèsir as Curtis Taylor Jr. sang "Family" so gently and with such smooth sounds it could have been a lullaby.
David Ridley's performance I could complement for pages but really, it can all be summed up with the phrase, "Jimmy Got Soul." He was by far one of the most entertaining performers I have ever seen. His delivery of every line was impeccable. He made me laugh at all the right times. His emotion moved me. And if his acting wasn't enough, his voice shown through even in the most animated songs. His performance was extremely well rounded.
The production of the show also enhances the spotlight on the actors. The set was extremely simplistic. The orchestra was set on a platform up-stage giving the audience the feel of being at a nightclub. Three steps lead down to a stage empty aside from two projection screens. The pictures on the screens and a few props were all set changes consisted of. This caused you to focus on the actors and not the background. Costuming was exquisite, making all the performers look their best. All of the dresses were red-carpet worthy, my personal favorite being a very sixties-style loose rainbow dress with sequins, with which the lighting made the women look like they were rotating on a pedestal.
Dreamgirls guarantees a night of entertainment and a level of talent you wouldn't have thought possible on such an intimate level. You'll forget you're in a theater and get lost in the dream.
For ticket information visit www.circleplayers.net or call (615) 332-7529. Dreamgirls is running now through Feburary 2, 2014.
Photo credit: Cindy Blanchard