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Review: DREAMGIRLS, King's Theatre, Glasgow

Review: DREAMGIRLS, King's Theatre, Glasgow

The production runs until 22 October

Review: DREAMGIRLS, King's Theatre, Glasgow The dazzling UK tour of Dreamgirls has reached Glasgow, and is currently enjoying a run at the Kings' Theatre. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the show follows fictional singing trio "The Dreams" on their route to stardom as they navigate the rollercoaster of the show biz industry in the US during the '60s and '70s.

The show was first produced on Broadway in 1981. It was later developed into a film in 2006 with an all-star cast and a revival opened in the West End in 2016, on which this touring production is roughly based.

Natalie Kassanga brought an innocent and caring air to Deena Jones, while Paige Peddie stole many scenes as Lorrell Robinson, and Sharlene Hector, blew the audience away as Effie White at this particular performance, playing the woman with a big heart and big voice with fiery determination. Hector received a standing ovation during the Act I Finale, "And I Am Telling You", and the audience were cheering for her before she'd even sung a note of "One Night Only".

Shem Omari James gave an endearing and heartfelt performance as Effie's brother and the group's composer, C.C. White, while Brandon Lee Sears gave a soul-filled and hilarious performance as Jimmy Early.

Simona Budd led the orchestra on keys (and cowbell!), ensuring every slick transition and groove was deftly delivered, although it was sad to see the brass/woodwind section was only a quarter of the size of the pit orchestra in the previous West End production.

Josh Marquette's hair design took us from tidy beehives in Act I to bountiful afros in Act II. Tim Hatley's costume design was full of glamorous gowns and sharp suits, and his set design largely comprising moving lighting rigs filled and varied the space brilliantly. Hugh Vanstone's lighting design gave plenty of pops of colour, and the use of a tiny spotlight to facilitate a certain costume change was well-received by the crowd.

Some small tweaks to the West End version are well thought out, e.g. dialling down Effie's initial entrance. The inclusion of a new duet version of "Listen" may be a little jarring for viewers more familiar with Beyonce's rendition from the film, but it is without doubt a rousing scene between Effie and Deena as they reflect on their friendship.

The score by Tom Eyen and Kenry Krieger almost verges on being a sung-through show, with very little time to breathe between the musical numbers, which very occasionally shows in the more vocally demanding moments in this marathon of a show. That said, overall, the snappy pace keeps the audience engaged in the onstage and offstage drama.

This show is playing in Glasgow during Black History Month in the UK. The book rightly highlights the huge influence of Motown and RnB music, as well as the more sinister corners of the music industry during segregation in the US. The cast assembled at the front of the stage singing about wanting to see their country change is a powerful moment, one that, sadly, is still relevant.

For a fun- and glitter-filled evening with powerhouse vocals, head down to the Kings' Theatre to catch Dreamgirls.

Dreamgirls at The King's Theatre, Glasgow, until 22 October 2022

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

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DREAMGIRLS Announces Postponement of UK Tour Photo
Dreamgirls has announced the postponement of its previously announced 2020-21 UK tour. 

From This Author - Fiona Scott

Fiona works towards her medicinal chemistry PhD by day but can usually be found in a theatre at night. She enjoys writing about science, musicals and more!

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