It’s not exactly news that having a child really affects your social life. On the plus side I’ve got lots of new mummy friends to go to soft play with, but night’s out are thin on the ground these days. Firstly there’s the cost of the babysitter but also dancing ’til dawn loses its allure when you know you’ll be getting up at dawn with a boisterous toddler.
So when I was offered a ticket to the West End production of Dreamgirls I jumped at the chance. The husband was NFI so no need for a babysitter and a trip to the theatre means you can be in bed (sober-ish) by midnight. If I’m honest I was more looking forward to my grown up night out rather than the show itself. I’ve clearly been living under a rock for the past decade because 1) I hadn’t even heard of Dreamgirls until I was offered the ticket 2) I didn’t even know it was based on a film. And not some ancient 1970s film. A film that was released in 2006, won Oscars AND even had Beyonce in it. Seriously, where have I been?!?! This is particularly upsetting as I always thought I was in touch with popular culture. I have even on occasion been known to muse that naughties pop culture would be my specialist subject on Mastermind. My only defence is I lived in Berlin in 2006. Maybe Dreamgirls never made in to Deutschland…
So for anyone else who has also been living in a blackhole/Germany let me give you a quick synopsis. The production is set in 1960’s america and is the story of a female soul group trying to make it and conquer the mainstream chart. In order to achieve this the decision was made that the incredibly talented but ahem, larger lady, Effie White should be replaced as lead singer by the not so talented but very pretty Deena Jones.
The role of Effie was played by Amber Riley aka Mercedes in Glee. Having seen an appalling Meg Ryan in Chicago I’m always cynical when tv/film actors attempt musical theatre. Riley proved me wrong. It must be said that the whole cast, choreography and staging were brilliant, but Riley was a cut above. Even thinking about her performance now brings me out in goosebumps. Her rendition of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going was sublime – one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on stage.
My only criticism would be in a plot that has obvious parallels to the real story of Diana Ross and the Supremes it would have been great to have some Supreme numbers included in the score. Maybe even a finale medley… I mean the Supremes have a great repertoire it seems almost criminal for it not to be referenced.
Finally, if you’re a fan of musicals then Dreamgirls, and Riley in particular, is such a treat and I would definitely recommend seeing it. It’s even worth getting a babysitter for. High Praise indeed.
Disclaimer: Despite my raving no money, tickets or anything has exchanged hands in exchange for an honest review or any of that jazz. I genuinely just loved it. #noad #notsponsored