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Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!

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PB ENT.
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Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#0
Posted: 12/15/05 at 8:24am
Just caught it last night. This cast really puts out the goods.
While it's got a few directional glitches, certaintly nothing to hold it back from being one of the best productions the Prince will offer this year.

I was told tickets are close to sell out for the remander of the run, but I'm sure there's some left. Catch it if you can!

http://www.princemusictheater.org

Look for a BWW review shortly in the Philly column.
www.pbentertainmentinc.com BWW regional writer "Philadelphia/South Jersey"
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#1
Posted: 12/15/05 at 8:27am
I love a cast that puts out!

Akiva
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#2
Posted: 12/15/05 at 8:37am
My boyfriend also saw it the same night as you Patty and concurs. He loved the stripped down set and the way it showcased the performers.
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#3
Posted: 12/15/05 at 9:10am
Any pictures?
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#4
Posted: 12/15/05 at 10:12am
I was totally going to go see this! Alas, a lack of funds. Now I'm even more saddened since its so good.
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#5
Posted: 12/15/05 at 10:38am
PB Ent how was the ACT I Finale handled.
I hope they didn't do what they did in Atlanta and at Paper Mill by staging The Dreams appearing behind Effie instead of in front of...
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#6
Posted: 12/15/05 at 10:56am
I caught the final preview of this last Friday evening. Having never seen the show before, I thought it was very, very well done. How nice to see a small regional company not skimp on a teeny tiny band. The orchestrations sounded very full and sumptuous! The performers were, across the board, phenomenal, with extra big kudos to the young woman who played Effie. She totally made the role her own. And yes, the direction was a bit pedestrian, BUT as a whole, the evening worked. Once again, just goes to prove one does not need elaborate sets and effects when the source material is so strong. If you can get to Philly, do so!!! Meanwhile, I wanna know how one gets the cast to put out! Is there a special ticket price for that club?!?!
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#7
Posted: 12/15/05 at 12:44pm
There was an article in yesterday's paper talking about the quick costume and wig changes, and it mentioned there was a possibility of extending, which would be great. I saw the show earlier in the week, and a lot of the weekend performances are already sold out, so tickets are becoming scarce despite the mixed review by the Inquirer.

I had never seen the show before, but it is one of my favorite scores. The show has areas that could be improved, but I agree with PottstownTeacher that, as a whole, the evening worked and I really enjoyed the production and am considering seeing it again.

(SPOILERS COMING NEXT TO RESPOND TO THE QUESTION ABOUT THE ACT I FINALE, SO DON'T KEEP READING IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW ACT I ENDS!)













(HERE COME THE SPOILERS!)
I personally did not like the way that the Act I Finale was handled. With a limited budget, I can see why they may not have been able to whisk Effie offstage to make room for the Dreams, but what happens is Effie basically stumbles off stage while she is singing the "meeee!" last note and the Dreams come on from the opposite side. This comes across as very odd for a couple of different reasons. First, Effie looks like she is clutching her stomach, which I think is supposed to show she is in agony and is fine until she starts stumbling off, which made me wonder if she was running off to go to the bathroom, which I don't think was the intent. Also, the staging is weird because in the lines just preceding, Effie is basically still, then all of a sudden she starts BACKING AWAY AND TO THE SIDE while she is reaching the last note, which takes away the power of the end of the song. Also, the last note is swallowed up and you can barely hear any of the "meeee!" To be an armchair director for a second, I think it would have been better to have had Effie start the movement after the "meeee!" is over (or at least farther along) and after the Dreams come in rather than so early. I have heard that Michael Bennett wanted to avoid the applause break, but the song whimpers out the current way. If the director wanted to make the point that Effie's emotional climax is being stepped on by the Dreams, it could have been done more forcefully and effectively if staged a little differently. For example, I think it would have been better to just have her back up and have a curtain drop between Effie and the audience (possibly a see-through one so you can still see her while the Dreams are performing) rather than do the stumbling to the side, which seems more purposeful and therefore more puzzling than a stagger straight back would be. But this is a minor quibble, partially brought on by years of listening to Jennifer Holliday's amazing last note and the huge gasp she takes before it, signaling, "Here comes the freight train -- get out of the way!" There's no freight train in this staging, and I missed it.
"What was the name of that cheese that I like?" "you can't run away forever...but there's nothing wrong with getting a good head start" "well I hope and I pray, that maybe someday, you'll walk in the room with my heart"
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#8
Posted: 12/15/05 at 1:13pm
I work for the Prince and have seen it multiple times now. It is definately worth the trip. Nova Payton, who plays Effie has pipes of steel!!! she can sing forever. and Deena is fantastic and is simultaneously understudying Aida at another theatre. the show does have some directional issues, but the cast is so, so, so strong that the issues do not bother me one bit. and the orchestra is amazing. the only thing they are missing is a real string section, the the brass really creates some great moments. and just for your BWWers, in advance I am telling you (no pun intended) that we are extending the show at least two weeks, so good seats will be available again in January. come see this great cast at the Prince!!
"I'm an American, Damnit!!! And if it's three things I don't believe in, it's quitting and math."
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#9
Posted: 12/15/05 at 2:46pm
I thought it was a terrific production, and Nova Payton is the best-sung Effie I've ever heard, minus J. Holliday.

Deena is also very good. Lorrell, however, misses a lot of her comic bits and her songs don't come off as strong. Her "Ain't No Party" was actually a little boring.

It's a lower-budget, more limited production, especially in terms of space, so a lot of the dazzlingly fast costumme changes (like in Heavy and I Am Changing) are not accomplished, but nothing's really lost without them. (Also, I only saw the first preview, so many things may be added by now)

A very solid production, though. Well worth the trip and money.
I'm an old show queen , and I'm not even 30.
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#10
Posted: 12/15/05 at 3:27pm
they've changed quite a few things. also, Jesse Vargas, the musical director has found a section of "I am changing" that never made to the broadway stage. I think this production may be the first time it is used. it is interesting to listen to, but I can do without it.

overall, the cast gets better every day, and audiences are loving every minute of it.
"I'm an American, Damnit!!! And if it's three things I don't believe in, it's quitting and math."
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#11
Posted: 12/15/05 at 3:30pm
A fine production with a weak Effie. However, my friend reminded me that no one can do that role like Jennifer Holliday. Maybe i expected too much.
'The Devil be hitting me!'--Whitney Houston
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#12
Posted: 12/15/05 at 3:56pm
Marquise~ I think mikem, nailed it pretty well. Yep, there were a few things I would have changed about Effie's direction on both show stoppers. But she was fierce!

Midtown, darn, I missed you again. Do we need a plan a rendezvous? Sorry you didn't care for Effie. I thought she both broke and won hearts. Betcha a cocktail she'll be a Barrymore nom.

I had a chance to chat with Nova (Effie) after the show. What a great background she has! I'm hoping to set up a few questions for her to go with my article.

I'm thrilled this is extending. The Prince works very hard and sometimes doesn't get the kudos it deserves. Dreamgirls should make them glow.

Pati b
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#13
Posted: 12/15/05 at 4:00pm
I wanna see this, it's so close.

But I don't think I'll have time re: Philly Dreamgirls -  worth the trip!
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#14
Posted: 12/16/05 at 12:13am
I saw Dreamgirls on its Press Opening and then accompanied a friend to the show again this week. I was extremely impressed, I have friends in Philly and a number of colleagues there too and so I travel there often from NYC and DC. I have seen this show produced numerous times and several times directors and theaters have attempted to only re-create Michael Bennetts staging and choreography. What I enjoyed most about this version was the inclusion of original moments coupled with a fresh energy. I vividly remember Mark Hoebees production which was nothing more than rehashed original work.

So regardless of what individual moments that were stronger or not, I give this cast, director, choreographer and theater strong kudos for mounting a great production of a show that can intimidate less adventureous companys. The audience jumped to their feet both nights I saw the show.

As for costume changes -- I only remember one lighting fast change in the original Broadway company -- the one behind the slit rain drape during the second part of the Heavy sequence. And while there was no rain curtain in this show, there was a lighting fast change there. The audience clapped the second night. The I Am Changing double costume change was there both nights I saw it -- suit change to dress. And the key change was uptempo which is different than the OBC but I really like it.

I also read the comments about Effie (who is NOT in front of the Dreams at the end of Act I -- I cant imagine Effie being in front of the Dreams at that moment. Thats just not in the score at all) and I loved her exit on that moment holding her stomach. It didnt seem to me she was running to the bathroom but clutching her stomach and clinging to her baby -- at least thats what the women sitting next to me said as they cursed Curtis not realizing he was that babys father. IT WAS A FANTASTIC REACTION!!

So those are my two cents -- but pedestrian, I hardly think so.

The box office didnt confirm it was extended to me when I asked but it was hardly a denial -- seems maybe its just not public yet I guess.
Updated On: 12/16/05 at 12:13 AM
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#15
Posted: 12/27/05 at 11:09am
But your tickets! the show is running an extra 2 weeks. Go see it for the music and singing alone. I am taking my sister and her kids to it. they love that type of music. there will never be another Jennifer, but the woman I saw in the late 80's wasn't Jennifer but sure acted better than her! Check it out, people don't get to see this show often.
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#16
Posted: 12/27/05 at 11:29am
yes. the show is extended through Jan. 15th. Go see it!!! for your edification, here are the ticket prices in advance:

tues and wed: all shows $40
Thurs. and Fri: all shows $45
sat and sun. matinee @ 2: $50
sunday eve. @ 7: $45
Sat. Eve @ 8: $55

I am in the office right now and the phones are off the hook. come and see it!!!
"I'm an American, Damnit!!! And if it's three things I don't believe in, it's quitting and math."
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#17
Posted: 12/27/05 at 12:42pm
Any pictures?
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#18
Posted: 12/27/05 at 1:14pm
this are the dreamgirls, and I will see if I can find more.

effie is center, deena is right, and lorrell is left.
"I'm an American, Damnit!!! And if it's three things I don't believe in, it's quitting and math."
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#19
Posted: 12/27/05 at 1:55pm
While definitely worth the trip, I found Nova Payton to be the worst thing about this production. Admittedly, the woman has pipes, but to my ears, not the right pipes for Effie. Her upper register is great, but the timbre in general is too bright with no depth to the tone. I like my Effie to have a little grit. Also, her acting was amateurish at best. Her kewpie-doll speaking voice and permanent pout grew old after Act 1 Scene 1. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, she ran the emotional gamut from A to slightly past A.
That said, the rest of the cast was quite good with the standouts being the Jimmy Early and Lorell. The pit was exceptionally good and the music director kept things moving at a bracing clip. The costume and wig designers are friends of mine, so I will refrain from praising their superlative work.
In general, anyone who loves Dreamgirls will enjoy the show, even if the Effie, for me, severely fell short of the mark.
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#20
Posted: 12/27/05 at 1:58pm
Pippin,

There are no pictures...
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#21
Posted: 12/27/05 at 2:34pm
Im seeing this next week.....SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!
Stop worrying if your vision is new. Let others make that decision- They usually do. You keep moving on. Anything you do, Let it come from you. Then it will be new. Give us more to see... ~Sunday In the Park with George
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re: Philly Dreamgirls - worth the trip!#22
Posted: 12/27/05 at 2:47pm
sorry about that.

http://citypaper.net/articles/2005-12-01/artpicks4.shtml

effie is center, with deena at right and Lorrell at left.
"I'm an American, Damnit!!! And if it's three things I don't believe in, it's quitting and math."