Sunderland Empire, 24/02/2022
Soon after the Disney magic dust has settled from Sunderland Empire hosting the latest production of Beauty and the Beast last week, the auditorium is now transported back to ‘reality’ and to 1960s New York with a gorgeous golden curtain and the stalls flooded in golden lights as we are treated to the first UK Tour of Dreamgirls. Originally opening on Broadway in 1981 and subsequently becoming a blockbuster phenomenon starring Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé in 2006 before a West End run from 2016-2019, the rest of the UK have waited long enough to see this show! Read on to find out five reasons to see Dreamgirls
1. The voices!
This musical feels so much like a celebration of 1960’s R&B and those talented minds and voices behind the movement. This tour really does highlight the genre as the stars give outstanding performances to every number. The leading couple Nicole Raquel Dennis (Effie White) and Dom Hartley-Harris (Curtis Taylor Jr.) have such beautiful voices that complement each other so well in their duets, plus Dennis really does shine as Effie White especially in her solo number ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, which leads us to our next reason to see this show!
2. ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’
This iconic song from this beloved musical really has the audience waiting in anticipation for it as the first act draws to a close. Performed by Nicole Raquel Dennis, this number really does feel like it’s worth the ticket price alone. Dennis is absolutely outstanding and breaks the hearts of the audience in those few minutes which pass by so quickly. Her voice fills the auditorium with ease as she belts out each note it’s a wonder the theatre staff aren’t checking the structural integrity of the roof in the interval as we are pretty sure Dennis blew the whole thing off with her performance of this number.
3. Brandon Lee Sears as Jimmy Early
Performing as the leading man of the Dreamettes and their icon in the first act, Brandon Lee Sears has such energy in this role. He dances and flips his way through his numbers and provides great comedy with his stage presence through the first half, it’s a real joy to watch his performance. As the career of Jimmy Early takes a turn for the worse in the second act we see Sears dramatic range as he portrays the vulnerability and downfall of the character so well as such a contrast to the first act.
4. It has the feel of a classic jukebox musical
Packed from start to finish with original R&B songs created by Tom Eyen (lyrics) and Henry Krieger (music) that feel like they have been plucked straight from the 50’s and 60’s, this show really is filled with wonderful music that could’ve been easily hits of classic groups like The Supremes. There’s barely time for breath between one song ending and another beginning, a lot of the time scenes are highlighted by a racing high hat on the drums which really gathers the pace of the drama on stage.
5. The atmosphere
On entering the theatre and getting to our seats, there really did feel like there was such a buzz and excitement to this show being in town. So many big fans of the 2006 film are here to see it brought to life, and others just ready for a fantastic night at the theatre. The show delivers exactly what the audience want and the actors are met with deafening applause and cheers at the end of each act and large numbers. When you’re sat amongst people who are all so ‘up for it’, it really does make for a wonderful experience.
Dreamgirls is on at Sunderland Empire until Saturday 5th March before it carries on its UK tour, where you can find dates and tickets by clicking here!