Review - Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre)

35 years after it first opened on Broadway, Dreamgirls has finally shimmied onto the West End. Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw helms a slick and polished production with all the makings of a dazzling theatrical success. 

Featuring songs such as One Night Only, Family, and of course And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going, Dreamgirls' strength undoubtedly lies within its music. The musical, which follows an up and coming trio of female singers called The Dreams who experience the highs and lows of show business in the 1960s, is fairly compelling despite some slightly clunky dialogue, but is to some extent a victim of its own strengths. The songs of Dreamgirls crackle with such dynamism and are performed to such a show stoppingly high quality that at several points the characters' spoken exchanges feel almost superfluous. Although notably the frank portrayal of racial prejudice within the music industry does form the basis for a plot line which gives the musical a more gritty and grounded undertone. 

Any arguably weak points within the book do very little to hinder the ultimately moving narrative which Dreamgirls tells.

Ibinabo Jack, Liisi LaFontaine and Amber Riley in Dreamgirls
Photo credit - Brinkhoff-Moegenburg 
The glitz and mystique of the showbiz world in which The Dreams move is perfectly portrayed on stage thanks to Hugh Vanstone's impeccable lighting design and Gregg Barnes' glorious, glamorous costumes, which are adorned with hundreds of thousands of Swarovski crystals, giving each gown an elegant sparkle. The production design really is heavenly, with a particularly noticeable serene azure permeating the dazzling showbiz numbers! 

Equally divine is American import Amber Riley, who is a force of nature in the iconic role of Effie White. The Glee star takes on the role with all the fierce power and calculated poise of a musical star in the making. Given her Glee character's penchant for iconic show tunes, it's easy to forget that Dreamgirls is not only Amber Riley's West End debut, but also only her second ever professional theatre credit. She is joined on stage by Liisi LaFontaine as the beautiful and sweet voiced Deena Jones, and Ibinabo Jack whose impeccable comedic timing as giddy Lorrell Robinson gets her plenty of laughs. Meanwhile Lily Frazer's Michelle Morris is a great final addition to The Dreams. The cast which has been assembled for this production of Dreamgirls showcases some of the best talent the West End has to offer, with supporting performances by Tyrone Huntley as Effie's songwriting brother C.C and Joe Aaron Reid as The Dreams' conniving manager Curtis Taylor Jr. both delivering superb performances, while Adam J Bernard is electrifying as zany R&B star Jimmy Early.

In a year which has seen many exciting musicals hit London, Dreamgirls is a striking example of just how extravagant the West End can be. Visually stunning and filled with unmissable performances, Dreamgirls is a lavish musical which deserves to keep sparkling at the Savoy for the foreseeable future!  

Don't miss Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre. Visit to buy tickets.