Tuesday night I was invited to see The Broadway musical Dreamgirls at The Fox Theater in Atlanta and I was overjoyed, anxious and excited because I absolutely LOVED the movie. This 1981 Broadway hit has been around the circuit for years. First with award winner Jennifer Holliday as Effie, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Deena Jones and Loretta Devine as Lorrell Robinson. These ladies put the play on the map with Holliday earning a Tony for her excellent, heartfelt performance.
But now with the success of the 2006 movie and a new stageplay, I was a little worried because I didn’t know if the musical would measure up to the powerhouse performances on-screen of Eddie Murphy, Jamie Fox, Beyonce, and of course Jennifer Hudson. The movie had me in tears. Jennifer Hudson’s solo singing the signature song, And I am telling you…I’m not going… made me grieve with Effie too. But could the new musical even compare? Well, well, well, I have to say, the musical BLEW ME AWAY. Where do I even begin?
First I have to start by saying that I am now in love with another man and his name is Chester Gregory a.k.a James “Thunder” Early! The actor who played Jimmy (Eddie Murphy played Jimmy in the movie) stole my heart and I think he also STOLE the show! Jimmy wants more, Jimmy wants more, I WANTED MORE OF JIMMY! He did slides and glides and moved those hips and gave us dips and crooned and swooned and made me feel every ounce of his performance. He was funny and very unforgettable. I have to say bravo! I have no idea where they found this actor but he’s definitely a keeper. He was VERY entertaining. From his temper tantrums to his direct dialogue with the audience, Chester Gregory played the part of Jimmy to perfection! Eddie Murphy’s performance in the movie doesn’t even compare. That’s how GOOD Chester Gregory’s performance was.
Chester was a standout but I have to give Moya Angela who played Effie White a standing ovation. I was so very concerned that there would be No, No, No, NO WAY, they could find a singer who would rival Jennifer Hudson’s incomparable vocals.
But let me TELL YOU, Moya put her THANG DOWN and she proved to not only be a great actress and was strong in her performance as a feisty, in-your-face and uncouth member of the Dreamettes, but she sang with vigor and power just as strong, piercing and heartfelt as Hudson.
The only thing I would say is that during her solo of singing “And I am Telling you….” I thought that the arrangement should have been a little slower in the beginning because it is such a powerful song. I felt like she was being rushed through singing the song. The song is so pivitol in the play that it’s like fine wine and just needs a little time to breathe. But other than that, be ready to be wowed by Moya’s spectacular performance.
Kudos also to Syesha Mercado (who played Deena Jones) and Adrienne Warren (who played Lorrell Robinson). These ladies gave stellar performances– as the other members of the Dreamettes and later the Dreams–that can’t go unnoticed. Syesha played the meek Deena Jones and played a lighter and more poised front woman of the group. The story chronicles an inside look into the music business during the 60s and 70s and how backdoor music deals and crossing over to pop music that was a normal part of the biz back in the day.
Chaz Lamar Shepherd played the power hungry Curtis Taylor (played by Jamie Foxx in the movie) He did a great job as well. I actually caught this little cutie outside of the theater after the show. I looked at him and said, “Hey you’re famous, who are you?” Chaz was acting so humble and refused to tell me who he was. I then said, “What show were you on?” and he said, “So many..” I then said, “What’s your name?” And he said, “Chaz”. I said, “Hey you were JUST in Dreamgirls. You did a PHENONMENAL job!” He said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you SO MUCH!” But it was like pulling teeth to get him to talk!! But after that performance, I am sure Chaz was truly tired of talking and singing! So I’ll give you a pass on THAT Chaz!
There is so much to say about this play, But you know what, it’s just BEST if you go and see for yourself before I give it all away! It has been a long time since I’ve seen a show and I was truly delighted I can’t say enough about the play. I almost forgot to mention there were also some new touches that had a new feel which was different from a typical stageplay. There wasn’t much furniture. There was a digital screen of some sort that projected images that took place of whatever furniture they would have needed on set. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention, the Dreamgirls changed costumes so darn fast that you would SWEAR each actress had a twin in back. I thought that was really cool.
Thank you to Tammie Reed of talking with Tami for the invite! Go treat yourself to a good show worth seeing.
The DREAMgirls is a fantastic REALITY.
Dreamgirls is in Atlanta from now until October 17th Check the Fox Theater website for ticket information
The Fox Theater
660 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308