(Lyndsey Winship’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/14.)
From the first swish of a lime-green, sequinned fishtail skirt to the megawatt smiles of ambitious girl group the Dreamettes and the shiny suits of their manager, a former Cadillac salesman, Dreamgirls is a musical full of sparkle. It’s less about the grit and sweat of the struggle to the top, more a fantastically entertaining ride on the showbiz rollercoaster, accompanied by some brilliantly belting voices.
Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin, The Book of Mormon) directs the UK premiere, 35 years after the original Broadway show by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen, which was adapted for a 2006 film starring Jamie Foxx and Beyoncé Knowles. The story follows a wide-eyed trio hoping to harmonise their way to stardom. Their talented lead singer, Effie (Glee’s Amber Riley), is sidelined when pretty, pop-friendly Deena (Liisi LaFontaine) is chosen to front the group. It’s clearly inspired by the real story of Diana Ross and the Supremes. Its weakness, sadly, is that the songs are nowhere near as good as the Supremes’ hits. But what it does have is tremendous energy and pace, crammed with snappy numbers and tight, slick 60s routines.