Monday, October 25, 2010

Dream Girls Review - Ain't no Dream

So I love Musicals. No, really… I really love ALL Musicals. My dream is to play Velma Kelly in a full production of Chicago one day and I'm actually writing my own Musical. Really.

I can't say I've ever NOT enjoyed a Musical. And Dream Girls was no exception. Except... 

I was a little disappointed this time. Mind you, I've never watched the movie nor the Musical so I really didn't have anything to compare it to. The only thing I did to prep for the show was read a full synopsis of all the Acts and the background information. 

Oh and I also YouTubed "And I am Telling You" sung by both Jennifer Holliday (the amazing original cast member who played Effie) and Jennifer Hudson (the studio version from the movie), upon advice of a friend. Watching those incredible performances made this version sound amateur-ish, if you can believe that. (Of course I can’t get this song out of my head and keep belting it with the gusto of a gospel singer, just without the gut-so.)

For those of you who are clueless, this is a story about a black all-girl singing group called "The Dreams" that try out for a singing contest at the Apollo Theater in NYC. There they meet both their soon-to-be slime ball manager Curtis Taylor as well as James "Thunder" Early, a popular playboy R&B singster a-la James Brown. The girls sing backup for “Thunder” until they finally get their own solo gig. The full-figured diva Effie White becomes the natural lead singer, followed by the daintier beauties Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson. The group dynamic takes a turn for the worse when Curtis decides that Deena should become the lead singer because of her softer pop sound over that of meaty soulful Effie, and then Effie gets replaced all together. In the mix, there are jealousies, sour romantic relationships, conspiracies and drama. Lots of drama.  

Moya Angela who plays Effie definitely has a voice and can act, but she was often pitchy and flat on certain higher notes. And I already mentioned my thoughts on "And I am Telling You." I was looking forward to Syesha Mercado playing Deena Jones. Syesha is not only a second runner up on the seventh season of American Idol, but she's also an FIU graduate. I know her voice is supposed to seem purposely inferior to Effie's but I still feel her performance could have generally been stronger. Of the three girl-group members, Lorrell played by Adrienne Warren was the most consistent throughout the performance, keeping a balance between "pretty" and powerful vocals and excellent acting.

The energy of the ensemble was somewhat bipolar, going up and down throughout the show, and the singing was a bit flat at times. True I went on Sunday evening, which was the last night of the tour in Miami. Although I was hoping for a balls to the wall finale, I'll give the cast the benefit of the doubt and say a few long nights out on South Beach is enough to zap anyone's energy by the last day.

Constant scene changes did help the flow. Plus the set design and costumes were magnificent. And of course the show is backed by Award-winning script and music.

The best part of the show was overwhelmingly the character of James "Thunder" Early played by Chester Gregory. His performance was titillating and brought much-needed comic relief and excitement to the show. His electrifying high-pitched screams and “Give me an Oooh Oooh”'s thoroughly entertained the audience!

Overall the show was enjoyable for a lazy Sunday evening. Fortunately I’m no critic. And I really love all Musicals. Have I mentioned that?

Broadway Across America "Dream Girls" Musical at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami

Modeling in front of the beautiful architectural structure that is Ziff Ballet Opera House. I love how my Play Bill blends in with my dress.

In our seats. Pretty good ones too.

The cast after they've bowed and are starting to leave the stage.

© 2010, Alexandra Figueredo
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