REVIEW: DREAMGIRLS - BRISTOL HIPPODROME
The glitz and glamour of the 1960’s/70’s has hit the Bristol Hippodrome with a bang, in the form of the Dreamgirls UK tour. Glitter, sequins, mirror balls and dazzling voices and dance moves delighted audiences on opening night.
Dreamgirls tells the story of Effie, Deena and Lorrell, a black girl band trying to make it in the ruthless world of show business, where looks and popularity are everything. It centres on Effie, the feisty star of the band, who is left heartbroken when manager Curtis (also her boyfriend) swaps her to backing vocals in favour of the softer sounding Deena in lead. Friendships and family relationships are pushed to breaking point, with fierce competition over the charts.
There is certainly no disputing the star of this show, and that is the truly amazing Nicole Raquel Dennis, who plays Effie. Her voice was just breath-taking, and the whole audience were on their feet with applause during her heart-breaking ballad ‘And I’m telling you I’m not going’. It takes a strong singer and performer to receive a standing ovation during the first act of a show, but she completely deserved it.
Throughout the show she proved herself to be not just an incredible singer, but also a talented actor, bringing the wild and highly charged Effie to life, and even with her diva strops and sometimes childish attitude she manages to keep the audience rooting for her to succeed.
Every great star needs supporting characters to work with them, and a great amount of praise and credit goes to Natalie Kassanga, as Deena, and Paige Peddie, as Lorrell. They both gave life to their characters, making them stars in their own rights. Kassanga really drew audience support for her portrayal of Deena, especially over her relationship with husband and manager Curtis, and we were rooting for her to leave to follow her own dreams. Peddie shone as the sweet and cheeky Lorrell, and was certainly a firm favourite with the audience.
Dreamgirls at the Bristol Hippodrome until Jan 22nd
As impressive as the female stars were, the male actors also deserve great credit.
Dom Hartley Harris eludes charm and danger as car salesman turned band manager Curtis, while Brandon Lee Sears delights as the charming and popular soul singer Jimmy Early.
But for me, the male actor who really stood out was Shem Omari James, who played Effie’s writer brother C.C. White. His rendition of the song ‘Family’ had me almost in tears, as did the moment when he reunites with his sister after 7 years.
The amazing voices and acting were complemented by a dazzling array of costumes and props, and the dance moves of the ensemble added to the fast pace.
I highly recommend Dreamgirls to everyone who wants to add a bit of glamour to a grey January evening. You certainly will not be disappointed.
Dreamgirls is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until January 22nd. For tickets visit https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome/