Last night, on a dreary wet evening, the roof was blown off the Liverpool Empire Theatre. Not literally, but if you’re looking to escape the January blues Dreamgirls is just the tonic. Filled with glamour, giggles, gigantic voices and girl power it takes you back to a turbulent 1960’s in America where a revolution in music is about to happen!
Meet The Dreams – Effie, Lorrell and Deena – three talented young singers who embark upon a musical rollercoaster ride through a world of fame, fortune and the ruthless realities of show business, testing their friendships to the very limit.
The story – although loosely based on The Supremes – is a work of fiction. They start out as backing singers for Jimmy Early, a successful James Brown-style figure played brilliantly by Brandon Lee Sears, who emulates all the cool moves and wild vocals of Brown. The girls move on to fame in their own right and although Effie has the most powerful voice, Curtis (their manager) chooses Deena to take lead vocals based on her looks. This infuriates Effie who looks to go solo supported by her song-writing brother as they enter the charts with one of his numbers. In retaliation, Curtis then gets the Dreams to record a disco version in competition.
All four have brilliant voices, with Effie (played by Nicole Raquel Dennis) truly standing out. A finalist on ITV’s The Voice in 2019, Nicole wowed viewers and judges at her blind audition, performing Dreamgirls mega-hit ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ alongside team mentor Jennifer Hudson who won an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress) for playing Effie White in the 2006 Oscar-winning film adaptation of Dreamgirls the musical. It was this song again which had virtually all the audience on their feet whooping in delight! The audience in the Liverpool Empire are often animated and this was them at their best! I do feel the cast responded and took it up another level (if that was possible!). A special mention at this point needs to go to the orchestra who were brilliant.
While we’re talking about the other members of the crew, hats off to costume design & change … wow they were some of the speediest and impressive costume changes I’ve seen! Stunning dresses, beautiful wigs … it all worked perfectly in taking you back in time. The use of the stage was clever in switching between back stage antics to feeling like we were the audience both in the show and in real life with some very glitzy backdrops.
If you love music from this era, or just love a strong powerful voice, this is the show for you! It is a full musical (I think only 3 lines were delivered as sentences!) which can make some elements a little hard to follow, but you get the gist. This is your last chance to see the current tour of Dreamgirls so if you want to blast the January blues away book now.
Note: For any mini travellers, I would probably say it’s appropriate for 12 plus as there is some bad language.
Dreamgirls is on at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday 7th January. For tickets: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dreamgirls/liverpool-empire/
For more information on Dreamgirls touring the UK: https://www.dreamgirlsthemusical.co.uk/