Dreamgirls

Theatre, Musicals Savoy Theatre , Charing Cross Until Tuesday September 25 2018
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgAMBER RILEY
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgJOE AARON REID
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgAMBER RILEY, TYRONE HUNTLEY, LIISI LAFONTAINE, IBINABO JACK
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgIBINABO JACK, AMBER RILEY AND LIISI LAFONTAINE 
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgADAM J. BERNARD AND (L-R) IBINABO JACK, AMBER RILEY AND LIISI LAFONTAINE
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgADAM J. BERNARD AND IBINABO JACK
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgADAM J. BERNARD AND IBINABO JACK
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgJOE AARON REID AND LIISI LAFONTAINE
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgNICHOLAS BAILEY AND AMBER RILEY
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgAMBER RILEY AND LILY FRAZER
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© Brinkhoff-MoegenburgAMBER RILEY, TYRONE HUNTLEY, IBINABO JACK AND LIISI LAFONTAINE

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Amber Riley blows everybody else away in this '60s girl group musical

Motown’s girl groups sang about needing love, love. But behind all the sappy stuff there was cold hard cash. Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen’s 1981 musical is built on sharp insights into pop’s economic realities. And this slick belated UK première, fronted by ‘Glee’ star Amber Riley and dripping in more Swarovski than a banker’s chandelier, doesn’t let you forget it.
 
The plot’s not-so-loosely inspired by the story of The Supremes. The Dreams are three African-American teenage girls who sing gorgeous close harmonies in talent contests, until a gig singing back-up for sex symbol Jimmy Early (a cartoonishly hip-rolling Adam J Bernard) brings them closer to the big time. But they’re not quite there. Their music is ghettoised on separate charts, and their hits are stolen by milk-white matinee idols.
 
Director Casey Nicholaw’s fast-paced production plunges us right into these backstage frustrations. The Dreams’ machiavellian manager Curtis Taylor Jr (Joe Aaron Reid) is waiting in the wings with a plan to get the dough rolling in. It’s none-too-subtly implied that leader Effie, played by an astonishingly good Amber Riley, doesn’t have the face for stardom – she’s relegated to the background, in favour of picture-perfect Deena (Liisi LaFontaine).
 
In ‘And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going’, Riley proves what a mistake that is with a stupefying solo – her huge, wracked voice seems to swallow up the room (and blows away all memories of Jennifer Hudson’s version in the 2006 movie).
 
But ironically for a musical that’s all about the struggle between authenticity and commercial success, the rest of the original songs tend towards the generic: forget soul, they don’t even have the kitschy, jingly magic of ’60s hits, or the slick sensuality of ’70s disco. And these identikit showtunes aren’t helped by an uneven supporting cast and a dazzling tacky production: endless glittery backdrops and crystal curtains, and bright polyester costumes that unleash a little rainshower of sweat when the dancers spin.
 
Riley’s ‘No!’ is strong enough to stop a freight train. But she doesn’t have enough stage time to keep the story of The Dreams’ runaway success on track. When she eventually joins them in a diamante-encrusted gown, it’s much-needed relief. She’s the star here, and she doesn’t need the Swarovski to prove it.

By: Alice Saville

Posted:

Venue name: Savoy Theatre
Contact:
Address: Savoy Court, Strand
London
WC2R 0ET
Transport: Rail/Tube: Charing Cross; Tube: Embankment/Temple
Event website: http://www.dreamgirlswestend.com
    • Savoy Theatre £20-£75, Premium Seats £99.50-£145
    • Savoy Theatre £20-£75, Premium Seats £99.50-£145
    • Savoy Theatre £20-£75, Premium Seats £99.50-£145
    • Savoy Theatre £20-£75, Premium Seats £99.50-£145
    • Savoy Theatre £20-£75, Premium Seats £99.50-£145
    • Savoy Theatre £20-£75, Premium Seats £99.50-£145
    • Savoy Theatre £20-£75, Premium Seats £99.50-£145

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:14
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|30
1 person listening
tastemaker

Am I the only one to have found the show a bit of a nightmare? For a musical, there seems to be a a minimum amount of singing. There is however an incredible amount of hysterical shouting which succeeds in drowning out the music. I can't judge the lyrics, because it was almost impossible to hear them.

tastemaker

Dreamgirls = What a treat of an evening. 


My mum and I absolutely adore this film so we decided to treat ourselves to a girly night out and Dreamgirls was the perfect thing to do for a feel good, cocktail filled night. The three main girls were all very strong and massively impressive and actually for me over shadowed the male performances on stage, which was quite refreshing. The duet of 'Listen' was the show highlight for me, the harmonies and chemistry between the two girls gave me goosebumps. The dresses made us both 'oooh' and 'awww' during nearly every scene and was a pure feast for the eyes. Jimmys rebellious performance was also a shockingly hilarious scene. 


Ideally I would have liked to sit closer, we were in the circle but underneath the celling which I felt took us out of the show a little bit but overall if you're looking for a good fun night out in London, nothing too serious or that takes a lot of work or planning, Dreamgirls is your thing! 

tastemaker

This show is full on glitz and glamour, there is no doubt about that. However, it lacks punch from the supporting cast to make it a truly great West End musical. The three main girls are phenomenal, with stage presence to match their powerhouse voices, but I just felt the male leads weren’t as strong vocally and their scenes didn’t match up to those of the girls’. I am not a fan of the “backstage” view during a show, where the singers face the back of the stage and we see what’s going on behind it. This happens A LOT in Dreamgirls and it started to get boring. Also I shouldn’t compare it to the film but they left out one of the best (in my opinion) songs from the film, ‘Love You I Do’ sung by Effie. This song really showed the loving relationship between her and Curtis in the early days, which I felt was missing from the show.

tastemaker

Dream girls is such an amazing show! It’s all about the voices, the music, the sparkly costumes, being the centre stage and the exciting storyline of love, subtle revenge, fame and friendship. These talented actors each perform fantastically and shine in their limelight. However try get a ticket closer to the stage - the seats in the highest balcony don’t have the best views and you can’t appreciate the show for all its glory. This musical is a must see and makes you feel great afterwards. The cherry on top is one of Jimmy's rebellious performances..but you'll just have to see it for yourself :) 


tastemaker

The actual show of dreams! I have always loved this show/storyline/songs so was sooo looking forward to seeing it on stage with my mum (who has a shared appreciation). It really did not disappoint. All the cast were outstanding and were true to the original story (which I do like in a show). The Amber Riley version of ‘And I’m telling you’ rivalled Jennifer Hudson’s - seeing it performed a few rows in front of us left everyone with mascara cheeks for the interval.

One of my absolutely favourite musicals (and I’ve seen a few). An absolutely must if you love a good singalong, although they do tell you not to sing crazy or dance during the show haha!

tastemaker

I went into Dreamgirls with low expectations as it's not the usual type of musical I go for but I was absolutely blown away by Amber Riley's vocals. The sheer power of her voice was amazing. As I hadn't watched the film beforehand, I wasn't familiar with the plot but got quickly lost in the storyline thanks to the superb ensemble. There were plenty of well-deserved standing ovations throughout, I would definitely visit again!

tastemaker

STUNNING!!!!!!


Incredible vocals and cast taking me from laughter to tears in seconds.


If you love good music and glittering costumes this is the perfect evening out.


Tastemaker

Wow does she have a set of lungs on her? An amazing performance from Amber and some great songs and costumes. The story line however is a bit samey and some of the other singing was a bit shouty. The savoy theatre is stunning! A magical fun filled evening. Not the best music and show but fabulous none the less

tastemakerTastemaker

I bought tickets to this musical for some girlfriends and I to cap off a grand day out - and it did not disappoint. The story of Diana Ross and the Supremes is brought to life by the wonderfully talented cast; Amber Riley was a knockout as Effie, and watching her performance was worth the price of the ticket alone. The rest of the cast were fantastic, too, putting together a really well-oiled machine of a show with so many hits and sequins I couldn't stand it! The downside? The theatre doesn't have air conditioning and being seated up in the balcony, it was ridiculously hot up there. My friend nearly passed out, honestly. So if you want to make sure you're comfortable and you've got balcony tix, bring water and maybe a fan. Seriously. 

tastemaker

I was the biggest Glee fan, so when the girls suggested we take our friend to see Dreamgirls for her birthday, I was all over it and desperate to see Amber Riley! I loved the film and the show did not disappoint, from the set design, costumes, dance numbers and vocal range, it was all so magical and I enjoyed every single second from start to finish. We were dancing along in our seats and our hearts were singing along, the temptation to belt out the numbers with the cast was overwhelming. I wholehearted recommend seeing this production!!!

tastemaker

Dreamgirls is a story of a trio of young Afro-American singers, who called their band The Dreams. The musical follows their journey to success, breakup of friendship, challenging their ability to be on the limelight, coping with their personal relationship. The story is simple and even a bit cheesy but it’s expectable for such a soapy plot. It is about music and voices. Amber Riley (from Glee) is obviously the best. As soon as she appeared on stage, the audience started clapping. Her voice is so powerful, it takes your breath away. The costumes are also beyond imaginable -there are so much sparkles, glitters, shimmers and they are changing their costumes quite often as well. There are quite a few broadway-style musicals showing in London at the moment, and I’d say it is not the best of them but as it’s more affordable, I wasn’t disappointed. The show is showing in Savoy.

tastemaker

If you are looking for a big belter of a West end musical then this is it! I loved the film and was a little hesitant about seeing it live but I needn't have been - it was amazing. Full of drama and music. I loved it. The cast are superb.

tastemaker


"They're your dream girls boys, they'll make you happy"  


I have wanted to see this since its inception - I adored Amber Riley in Glee and couldn't wait to see her smash it as Effie White. Luckily, I have a beautiful friend who surprised me with a trip to the Savoy Theatre last night!

The casting director of this show needs a pat on the back and a hearty congratulations, every part was well cast, Riley was incredible, but each and every actor played their part wonderfully and really stood out! Asmeret Ghebremicheal was a real stand out for me, playing Lorrell perfectly. 


The staging was simple, yet clever and if you are an ex-drama student like me, you will appreciate the director's use of the small space and lighting to create a fabulous setting, that complimented the script well. 


THE SONGS. A lot of them recognisable (even if you haven't seen the film!) and I barely dared to breathe during the belter of a song that is"And I'm telling you..." and also "Listen". Both made me cry like a baby (happy tears? Sad tears? The fact that my lungs were screaming at me to BREATHE? I couldn't decide.)


We went on a very hot day and the theatre was absolutely sweltering, with not much air to breathe in the bar area upstairs either. However, we were also sat in the grand circle and heat does rise - so this probably didn't help. It didn't seem so high up as a lot of other theatres though and I saw the staff helping a lot of people up the stairs etc. The view wasn't too hindered either - except when someone in front of you decided to lean forward!


I would definitely love to see this again and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a bit of glitz, power ballads and SOUL.

tastemaker

I'd heard great things about this show and I have to say that I was disappointed! Admittedly I had never seen the film, so I didn't know what to expect besides it being loosely based on Diana Ross and The Supremes, the whole singing conversations I found quite annoying and whilst there were some great vocals, Amber Riley did not perform and I found her stand in to be too shouty. Sadly, I was quite glad when it was over!

Tastemaker

A really good show which stays pretty true to the big screen movie throughout and is loosely based on the Supremes. Amber Riley is absolutely phenomenal and shows just how far she has come since her Glee days. Her rendition of "And I am Telling You" is simply out of this world. She truly blows the audience, rest of the cast and probably Jennifer Hudson away!!


Beautiful costumes and staging although this show is a little lacking when it comes to big dancey numbers. A great night out but not quite as impressive as some other musicals in the West End.


Tastemaker

Amber Riley totally rocks in this musical! This multi talented glee creature is stunning on stage! A musical full of well known songs and great actors, that is absolutely fantastic. Don't expect though hundreds of actors/dancers on stage or impressive set designs as other West End musicals, but for sure you will have a great night out.

tastemaker

I had high hopes for this production. The performances from Amber Riley and Lissi LaFontaine were wonderful and counter balanced by an impressive Adam J Bernard. The set and costumes were spectacular and managed to illuminate the darkest recesses of the Savoy theatre. However, despite the talent on show, the story does feel a bit derivative but given that the musical dates from 1981 this is not necessarily surprising. 

Tastemaker

Very excited to see this show after all the hype. The show itself was full of bling and style. The set was great and very clever, how they changed it. The plot was weak and predictable, I love musical theatre, but this was a disappointment. The best thing about dream girls is Amber Riley. Her voice is absolutely phenomenal and will blow you away. If she wasn't in it and with her voice, I probably only would've given this a one or two stars. Top tip don't get restricted view, it's a really poor view, especially if someone tall Is sitting in front of you!

Tastemakertastemaker

As a Musical Theatre junkie and a huge Dreamgirls fan- I was very eagerly anticipating this visit and I was not disappointed. Amber Riley is knockout and I am saying that as somebody who was not overly enthused about her casting. Her voice is a powerhouse and the vocal she delivers on 'And I Am Telling you' is spine tingling. 

One of the best shows on at the moment, with an amazing score, pumped out loudly (so many west end shows have such quiet music nowadays), great staging and costumes (a quick change that will blow your mind). 

tastemaker

With top notch vocals that literally brought the house down, Effie White played by the dynamically talented Amber Riley, who's was was fantastic, faultless and fabulous. The Dream Girls is loosely based on the story of the supremes and is peppered with great hits . The fantastic soulful performance from "James Brown"Jimmy Early aka Adam J Bernard who's tone, artistry and musical ability leaves you wanting more. Dianne Ross in the form Deena Jones aka Liisi laFontaine puts on a good performance and holds her own in the duet with the powerhouse that is Miss Riley. Grab yourself a ticket, cos you gonna love it!

Tastemaker

Okay, so this show is not for the faint-hearted. Dreamgirls explodes out of the stage at the Savoy Theatre with sass, sparkle and big, BIG vocals.

This show is full of glitz and glam- the costumes are exceptional. They nail the era so you really feel like you are back in the 60’s and add some glitter to a dreary January evening. Glad rags aside, there is nothing super innovative or special about the production of this show. However, that’s not why people have come here; the talent is what draws the punters in and it doesn’t disappoint. Some of the best vocals on West End at the moment, this cast, led by star Amber Riley, give a master class in soul singing; it’s raw, it’s emotional and it’s powerful. There are moments which really knock you back into your seat with sheer force. And yes, although Amber is the big name and is a true triumph, she is outshone by Adam J Bernard as Jimmy Early in my opinion who brings humour, terrific vocals and emotion to his role- simply amazing. The choreography is slick and sexy, notably the all-male number ‘Welcome to the Bad Side’.

The first half finishes with the iconic ‘And I am Telling You’, which is exhausting to listen to, let alone perform. You feel emotionally drained after this number so hope for some quieter, softer moments in the second half, which, once the curtains come up, you are swiftly denied. As other reviewers have commented, this is a show on one level. There is not much light and shade, allowing the big moments to really be big- it’s on full steam ahead constantly. And while this allows the cast to show off their impressive pipes and stamina, it leaves something to be desired.

Dreamgirls is entertaining, it’s sassy, it’s fun. It isn’t revolutionary, but it leaves you wanting to listen to some Aretha or Beyoncé for the rest of the week which is no bad thing. And to see this cast, who are undeniably at the top of their game, is worth the ticket price. 

Staff Writer

In all honesty, the plot is not for me. It's a bit predictable, a bit tired and more than frustrating. But the performances? Astounding. We had the understudy and she was magnificent. For anyone who loves a musical and some toe-tapping, this is for you.

tastemaker

In early December I arrived at The Savoy Theatre eagerly anticipating the show with Amber Riley. I was more than slightly disappointed to discover, via a printed piece of paper on the theatre door, that she was not performing that night as she was appearing at the Royal Variety Performance. However, I put that behind me and looked forward to the evening. After a slight 'technical hitch' at the very beginning of the show Dreamgirls began. Good music, great costumes. The understudy managed well but she wasn't Amber!

As a musical it was 'alright'. Not the best I have seen by a long way but neither was it the worst. I felt many of the songs were sung at the same decibel level. I would have liked some quieter moments and a slower pace at times, to make the heavier, meatier songs have more of a presence. Over time it all started to sound rather similar. I didn't have any 'goosebump' moments when either the music was so beautiful or the singing so powerful that the hairs on the back of my neck would have stood up. Would I have had those moments if Amber Riley had been performing? Possibly. Would I go again to discover? Probably not.


Excellent production.   Great flexible set.  Fab costumes.  Music and singing wonderful.     Girl that payed Effie (5th Jan 17) fantastic.     She played the character really well.   The chap that played Jimmy Early out shone the one in the film version.  Looking forward to going again! Would highly recommend.


This was amazing. Amber Riley sings her heart out and wins your soul in the process. The duo with Liisi LaFontaine had us all gasping, it was difficult to believe that was happening right in front of us. The theme is powerful, the narrative is done in an old school style which I found the right approach considering the time-frame in which all this happens. Choreography is tight, I mean seriously tight, it doesn't get more slick. Solid singers, performances that had spontaneous standing ovations mid-show (I counted 3), this is the best thing on the West End right now, and possibly at any end.

Tastemaker

There's not much to say other than I bought tickets in March, to see Amber Riley perform live, on a night she was meant to be performing. They then announced on the day, that it was her understudy (as she decided to go to the royal variety performance).


Amazing - this is the best musical I have seen since Book of Mormon. Electric performances - the whole theatre gave the cast a rapturous standing ovation at the end.  Want to see it again!


WOW!! What a show, you know you are watching something special when there are 2 standing ovations during each half of the show as well as a 3rd at the curtain call. Amber Riley is spectacular and the rest of the cast are fantastic. Could be one of the best shows I have ever seen. Very lucky to have seen this in preview as I am sure when this opens fully it will be very hard to get a ticket! Great staging and a wonderful night out. Still getting goosepimples as I think about it! AMAZING!

tastemaker

Amber Riley’s voice is worth the ticket price alone - she is effortlessly brilliant and the crowd were mesmerised by every song she sang.  The rest of the cast don’t pale into insignificance though and are fantastic - particularly Adam J Bernard as Jimmy Early.  The staging was beautiful and very impressive.  I went during the previews and think there are some sound issues which need to be sorted out but, other than that, I thought this musical was amazing and I’d definitely go again!