Dreamgirls – Savoy Theatre

Dreamgirls is a musical by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen and is based on the successes of rhythm and blues stars, following the story of an aspiring girl group, The Dreams, and their journey to stardom. The musical debuted on Broadway in 1981 and was adapted for the big screen in a 2006 film starring Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé.

The main storyline of Dreamgirls is typical, even stereotypical, with a girl group of three who pay their dues shooting for fame, make it big and then start fighting among each other, leading to the break-up of their band and friendship. There are moments of “girl-power” as the women each in turn walk away from their no-good men who are stringing them along, controlling them or taking them for granted, and these are uplifting moments in the show; however, despite the actors’ best efforts, it is a weak main plot line. Similarly, the musical makes a commentary on the racial divisions in the music industry at the time. The band’s manager is determined to conquer these restrictions and does so by diluting the soul, integrity and originality of his acts – in essence, selling out, but again, the story is quite weak.

The music within the show far outshines the insubstantial plot, however. The highlight of the show is without a doubt ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ at the end of Act 1. Act 2 is then a bit of an anti-climax, and although ‘Listen’ and ‘One Night Only’ are outstanding musical numbers, it would have been a wonderful end to the show to see a reprisal of the end of Act 1’s huge number rather than of the relatively weak ‘Dreamgirls’ itself.

Amber Riley (Glee (TV), Duke of Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade, Into The Woods) starred as Effie White. Her voice was sublime throughout, her character sassy and fun, and her performance of ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ was simply mind-blowing and had the audience going wild. Liisa LaFontaine (Rent, Dog Sees God, Once on this Island) and Ibinabo Jack (The Bodyguard, Hot Stuff, Little Shop of Horrors) were also fantastic as other Dreams members, Deena and Lorrell. Joe Aaron Reid’s (In The Heights, Ghost, Rainbow and Curtains) performance as Curtis Taylor, the sleazy group manager, was excellent. Adam J Benard (Thriller Live, Hairspray, I Can’t Sing) gave a standout performance as Jimmy Early and at times gave a much-needed change of tempo and sound to the show.

Despite a lacklustre plot, Dreamgirls is a powerhouse of a musical, with phenomenal singing, amazing music, and a talented cast.

Dreamgirls is showing at the Savoy Theatre and is currently booking until 21st October 2017 (to book tickets, click here). For more information on your visit to the Savoy, click here.


Thriller Live – Lyric Theatre

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, is known the world over for his distinctive vocals, rhythmic dancing moves and magnetic stage presence. Thriller Live is a musical created by Adrian Grant which is not only a fitting tribute to the late Michael Jackson but also a superb documentary and celebration of his award-winning career, philosophy and ethos.

With Jackson’s music containing themes of equality, peace, anti-war, change and other global issues, he was one of the most influential artists of all time. He is also regarded as one of the most versatile artists ever, with his music ranging in genres from rock to pop to disco, R&B, soul, dance and jazz.

Thriller Live begins at the very start of Michael’s musical career with the Jackson 5 at Motown Records in the early ’70s, before the transfer to Epic Records in 1975, and his first bestselling solo album, Off the Wall (1979), and then further success with the Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), HIStory (1995) and Invincible (2001) albums.

The musical expertly mixes Jackson’s popular dance tracks (‘Beat It’, ‘Blame It On The Boogie’, and ‘Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)’), with his ballads (‘She’s Out Of My Life’), and with his powerful social and political statement songs (‘They Don’t Really Care About Us’, ‘Man In The Mirror’, ‘The Earth Song’ and ‘Black or White’). Other standout numbers in the show include ‘Dirty Diana’, ‘Can You Feel It’ and of course the iconic ‘Thriller’.

Both the singing and dancing casts were incredible. Angelica Allen, Reece Bahia and Haydon Eshun stood out particularly with their fantastic vocals. The show was masterfully choreographed by Gary Lloyd incorporating Jackson’s iconic moon-walks and other signature moves into other high-energy routines, including ‘Beat It’ and ‘Off The Wall’.

Overall, Thriller Live is an amazing show, tribute and documentary of the great Michael Jackson’s musical career for all audiences, not just Michael Jackson fans, performed by an outstanding cast.

Thriller Live is showing at the Lyric Theatre and is currently booking until 1st October 2017 (click here to book tickets). For more information on your visit to the Lyric Theatre, click here.