Review: North Carolina Theatre's DREAMGIRLS

You've got 'one week only' to catch this at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.

By: Feb. 08, 2023
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Review: North Carolina Theatre's DREAMGIRLS

Based on the show business aspirations and successes of R&B acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, and Jackie Wilson, Dreamgirls tells the story of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called "The Dreams," who become music superstars. Through gospel, R&B, smooth pop, disco and more, this musical explores themes of ambition, hope, and betrayal, all set in the glamorous and competitive world of the entertainment industry.

The original production directed, co-choreographed, and co-produced by Michael Bennett opened on December 20th, 1981 at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. The show went on to receive 13 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical) and ended up winning 6 accolades overall. It was a commercial hit, running for 1,521 performances when it closed on August 11th, 1985. In the years since, Dreamgirls received a resurgence thanks to a 2006 Academy Award-winning film adaptation as well as the Act I finale, 'And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going', becoming an anthem.

This musical is widely remembered for its foot-tapping score. Henry Krieger & Tom Eyen crafted quite a number of bangers heard throughout. Not to mention that in some scenes, there are conversations written as songs kind of like what you'd see in sung-through musicals like Les Misérables. Although there are book scenes with spoken lines of dialogue. Tom Eyen's book does feel long at times in Act I, although it is tighter in Act II. Director/choreographer Christopher D. Betts definitely keeps the whole production moving very well. The musical numbers are given such lively staging (which are excellently lit by Charlie Morrison).

Everyone in the cast really delivers the goods. Tamara Jade, Joy Woods, and Nya all work well together as the Dreams. Each of them also have their own individual character arcs. Tamara Jade in particular, who plays Effie White, has the most notable one of all. I'll not be going into detail about it for those who've never seen Dreamgirls. What I will say though is that when she gets to perform 'And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going' near the end of Act I, she gets multiple well deserved rounds of applause from beginning to end. Joy Woods is terrific as Deena Jones, a shy young woman who becomes the lead singer of the Dreams. She and Effie even share a heartfelt duet near the end of Act II titled 'Listen,' which is a modified version of one of the Oscar nominated original songs from the movie. Nya does a great job as Lorrell Robinson, a good-natured background singer with the Dreams who becomes mistress for James "Thunder" Early. Speaking of which, Saint Aubyn offers such an energetic turn as that raucous performer who later falls into depression. I found Erick D. Patrick to be very charismatic as Curtis Taylor, Jr., a slick Cadillac dealer-turned-record executive.

If you've never seen Dreamgirls before, I think this production is absolutely worth seeing. It's got some slick staging and musical numbers that are very well performed. Not to mention that the story explores the rise and fall of performers in the music industry in such an entertaining way. Audiences should have a great night out.


Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid theatergoer? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.