Dreamgirls. Bristol Hippodrome

With 27 numbers, many of them containing lyrics that continue to tell the story, and the minimal of dialogue, this fast moving glittery show could be described as a Rhythm and Blues opera rather than a Musical. It is indeed a feast for those who love the R&B music of the 60s and 70s and here we have a cast full of singers who know exactly how such numbers should be presented.

We follow the fortunes of Effie White (Nicole Raquel Dennis), Deena Jones (Natalie Kassanga), and Lorrell Robinson (Paige Peddie) as they go from being an amateur singing group, the Dreamettes, to the backing group for the popular R&B star Jimmy Early (Brandon Lee Sears),  helped by the songs composed by Effie’s brother CC White (Shem Omari James), to number one top selling trio The Dreams.

They also acquire a manipulative con-man manager Curtis Taylor Jr (Dom Hartley Harris) who will stop at nothing, including forcing Effie out of the group, and marrying Deena, in order to reach the top of the music scene. He even stoops as low as to try and sabotage Effie’s career when she looks like making it as a solo artist. Girl Power finally wins the day as the girls reunite with Effie and Deena’s duet ‘Listen’ providing a real show stopper.

But whether solo or as a trio these three ladies are a joy to watch and listen to, they and Brandon Lee Sears egotistical Jimmy bang out one terrific number after another in a manner to delight any fan of this style of music.

Director /choreographer Casey Nicholaw has also assembled a 16-strong ensemble who add glitter and style to the big production numbers making them as good to look at as to listen to. Backing them all are ten live musicians who under Simona Budd’s leadership provide quality support for the vocalists and the true sound of 1960/70 R&B music.

Squeezed in between the fast flowing songs there are a few nicely played dramatic moments in which Dom Hartley-Harris’ Curtis Taylor Jr makes a fine art of double crossing meanness, and Shem Omari James and Jo Servi, as the ever reliable promoter Marty, show that the nice guys sometimes win.

A production that is a slick and shiny as a pair of patent leather shoes this show which whizzes along at a breath-taking pace will delight all those who love the sounds and visions of the 1960/70s and any fan of R&B music.



Dreamgirls continues at the Hippodrome until 22nd January

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