Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Theater Review: Dreamgirls Captures the Essence of the Apollo in its 75th Anniversary Year

Dreamgirls on Tour, Photography by Joan Marcus Dreamgirls captures the essence of the Apollo Theater as the Apollo celebrates its 75th anniversary season. Known as the theater “where stars are born and legends are made,” the Apollo has helped great performers on their road to fame including Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Gladys Knight, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holliday as well as many others. Dreamgirls opens with scenes of The Dreamettes competing in the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night, the signature show at the Apollo that has provided so many talented artists their big break.

This exciting production shares the experience on and off stage of the talented up and coming Dreamettes, a female musical group climbing their way to stardom during the 1960s. The simple, great-for-touring, yet ingenious stage design by Robin Wagner has shifting panels that transform from backdrop (with amazingly clever projections) to the side-viewed wings of a stage.  When the Dreamettes are performing onstage and the projections are spinning behind them, you feel as if you have been transported back in time, experiencing the dazzling performance of one of the popular girl groups like the Marvettes or the Supremes.  The remarkably striking ladies all wear matching dresses and have cutesy choreography that enhances their song numbers.  Of course, the first dresses we see them in are borderline frumpy, but as the story progresses, the costumes become more and more stunningly glamorous.

Real Friends, Real Dancers. Real Pros.... Only on iDANZ.  Join Today!Dreamgirls might have become more popular now with the recent movie starring Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Foxx, but seeing it onstage is another experience. This particular production does a fabulous job, capturing the magic of the performers onstage and the drama backstage.  The retro feel of the production with the 60s style of the music and dress is so much fun; delightfully so, as the choreography brings everything together by embracing both of these elements.  The ensemble dancers in this production spice up the "in-between" scenes with high energy dancing that is impressive and enjoyably funny.  I love the "One Night Only" disco scene, where we see that catchy 70s style ography of ball-change press, ball-change turn "c’mon c’mon"… repeat… ball-change press, ball-change… It got me and Miss iDANZ herself, Candice Rox, performing the steps all the way down 125th street on our way for drinks at the GU (Gospel Uptown). 

Another choreographic highlight is during "Steppin’ To The Bad Side" where not only are the dancers gettin’ down, but the illustrious projections on the panels are gettin’ busy as well.  With the aid of technology, dancers inventively appear to be coming out of the woodwork then multiply right before our eyes -right in time with the music!  Both the technology and collaborative creativity for this show, choreographically and in graphic design, are truly amazing. 

Other notables are Chaz Lamar Shepherd, who plays the creepy Curtis Taylor Jr. who we all love to hate, and Chester Gregory, who plays Jimmy, the over-the-top, fame hungry performer who probably elicits the most laughter.  Adrienne Warren as Lorrell, Margaret Hoffman as Michelle, and seventh season American Idol first runner-up, Syesha Mercado, give convincingly solid performances as the Dreamettes/Dreams.  Moya Angela is a powerful Effie White, and after hearing her sing her rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” you’re gonna wanna sing this hit in the shower for several days after watching. 

Dreamgirls on Tour, Photography by Joan MarcusQuick costume changes add extra pizazz as the Dreamettes and Deena Jones transform within seconds off stage and on literally to the amazement of the audience.  To see the magical costume changes alone is a reason to see this show…  And much to the audience’s delight, instead of a misplaced, self-indulging number for Deena to sing, "Listen" (from the movie version made famous by Beyonce) has been added as a relevant yet powerful, teary-eyed duet in a breathtakingly new arrangement between both Deena and Effie… not a dry eye in the house.  Bravo, Ladies!

It is just as the lyrics say, “Dreamgirls will never leave you, ‘cause all you have to do is dream…” An inspirational show, Dreamgirls is embarking on a National Tour and should not be missed!

Photography by Joan Marcus

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Official Dance Review by Lea McGowan
Editorial Contributions by Candice Rox
Performance: Dreamgirls
Choreography: Robert Longbottom with Shane Sparks as Co-choreographer
Venue:  Apollo Theater, Harlem, NYC
Show Date:  December 2, 2009


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One Response to “Theater Review: Dreamgirls Captures the Essence of the Apollo in its 75th Anniversary Year”
  1. Jе peux dire que c’est infiniment de lа joie
    de ρasseer sur votre site web

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