The Dreamgirls Review – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

The Dreamgirls
Image Source: Liverpool Echo

This is our review of The Dreamgirls at Liverpool‘s Empire Theatre. So, let’s take a look at The Dreamgirls!

Synopsis Of The Dreamgirls

It’s the swingin’ sixties, and The Dreamettes hope to make it big. The trio consists of Deena Jones (Natalie Kassanga), Lorrell Robinson (Paige Peddie), and Effie White (Nicole Raquel Dennis). Problem is, it was (and still is) tough to get a break. So, they reluctantly accept a chance to serve as backing singers for James Early (Brandon Lee Sears). Note that this is under the management of Curtis Taylor Jr. (Matt Mills), whose influence grows as the show progresses. The partnership works well; too well, in fact. That’s because Effie falls in love with Curtis, while James begins an affair with Lorrell.

The real turbulence, though, comes when Curtis looks to present the Dreamettes as a separate act with Deena, not Effie, as the centrepiece. Despite the raging arguments surrounding the decision, the girls do their own thing. But over time, bitterness sets into the extent that Effie becomes a liability. This isn’t helped by the new romance between Curtis and Deena. In response, Curtis replaces Effie with Michelle Morris (Brianna Ogunbawo), causing a seemingly unsolvable rift within the group. However, as the story goes on, the situation transforms dramatically. Soon, we wonder who really is living their dream, and whose reversal in fortunes actually acts as a blessing in disguise.

Analysis Of The Dreamgirls

First of all, the story is very well told with several twists and relatable sub-plots. I personally appreciated the amazing settings and dazzling lighting effects that elevate this above a typical show. Meanwhile, the costumes are eye-catching and authentic for the era. Furthermore, I liked the refreshing approach of using song to convey much of the dialogue between the really big numbers. And in terms of entertainment, James displayed incredible charisma, charm, and presence. His participation alone makes this a must-see show.

However, people are really coming to see this show for the big songs. And the show delivers such tunes as I’m Lookin’ For Something, Steppin’ To The Bad Side, It’s All Over and I Am Changing. In particular, Effie’s rendition of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going brings the house down. There are other massive musical moments too, but the pre-intermission slot is the highlight of the evening. I will say, though, that not all of the characters are as sympathetic as one would assume beforehand. Indeed, we barely see Michelle, and yet she’s the only Dreamette whose personal life isn’t mired in controversy.

Summary Of The Dreamgirls

Though we’re only three days into 2023, this is already one of the best shows you would see all year. It has everything, as well as delivering a positive and upbeat finale, along with plenty of fantastic performances. Make sure that you see this performance in order to witness one of the true theatre highlights of the New Year.

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding