THE INCREDIBLE DREAMS
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
The Dreamgirls phenomenon continues at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts this spring. Opening in 1981 at the Imperial Theatre, and winning six Tony Awards, this showbiz musical follows the story of a young female singing trio from Chicago called “The Dreams” as they navigate the murky waters of the entertainment industry to become pop superstars. True to La Mirada Theatre and Mc Coy Rigby Entertainment fashion this production is fantastic—Broadway level razzmatazz and incredible cast performances through and through.
From the opening sequence masterfully engineered by composer Henry Krieger and book and lyricist Tom Eyen the audience is fully engaged with the characters in this production. Additionally, all the performers give it everything in this tour de force act one opener—you get the best dancing, singing and acting within the first ten minutes. Director and Choreographer Robert Longbottom, who is no stranger to the Broadway stage, skillfully handles all the moving parts of this colossal show—the direction is engaging and emotional. The influence of assistant choreographer Shane Sparks (So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew) certainly shines through in many numbers—together Longbottom and Sparks create dance patterns that are a combination of period and contemporary moves creating a rollercoaster ride of body rockin’ soul. Adding to the visual stimuli of this production are the hypnotizing LED screens that are used as the high-tech scenery, these screens weave in and out giving audiences stimulating visuals and videos that bring this production to life on stage.
Simply put the Dreamgirls cast is: the best you can get, dynamite! With so many talented actors it’s difficult to believe that one could shine above the rest, yet here that person is Moya Angela (Effie White). Angela, who previously won an NAAP Theater Award for Best Actress as “Effie” in the National Broadway Tour of Dreamgirls, brings a fresh, powerful and electric performance to this production. Her voice is breathtaking and robust—she brings the audience to their feet with her powerful rendition of the act one finale, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” David LaMarr’s (James “Thunder” Early) performance is energetic and sincere, you get the sense of everything his character is going through from beginning to end, and his voice is smooth and dramatic especially in, “Aint’ No Party,” “The Rap” and “I Want You Baby.”
John Devereaux (C.C. White) is another stellar performer who knows his place in the scope of the drama yet still finds moments to shine in “Cadillac Car,” “Steppin’ to the Bad Side,” and “I Miss You Old Friend.” Brittney Johnson’s (Lorrell Robinson) performance is remarkably dynamic; she takes her character on the journey from back-up singer to star in a way that’s heartfelt and alluring, you’ll look forward to hearing her bright voice in “I’m Somebody,” “Hard To Say Goodbye” and the iconic “Dreamgirls”.
WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC DIRECTOR?
Music director Dennis Castellano excellently prepares this cast for this sizeable show that is largely sung-through. With a show like this Castellano brings a fine balance of musical groove and dramatic singing as seen in all the performers. Additionally, conductor/keyboard 1 Brent Crayon successfully leads the cast and talented nine-piece orchestra in this production.
Experience the showbiz dream and see Dreamgirls at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts this spring. The show runs from March 25-April 17th for tickets and more information visit: www.lamiradatheatre.com.