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Rita Kohn
Performance Reviews
Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
United States
Indiana
Indianapolis, IN
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Dreamgirls

by Rita Kohn
November 7, 2010
Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
510 North New Jersey Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-1517
877-686-5366
4 stars
Broadway Across America Indianapolis, Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, Nov. 2-7
Book and lyrics by Tm Eyen; music by Henry Krieger; original Broadway production directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett; current production directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom; music
direction by Alvin Hough, jr.

This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Dreamgirls ignited the Murat with simultaneous on/off stage vignettes propelling us into the roller-coaster lives of a 1960s Chicago foursome hungry for fame. Three singers and a songwriter/manager are manipulated into a whirlwind by Curtis Taylor, Jr., a car salesman with a 'dream' to transform these aspiring artists from their rhythm and blues and soul tradition into the pop market. Swept into the mix are a solo artist, James "Thunder" Early, and Michelle Morris, a singer brought in to revamp the original "Dreamettes." The story spanning across seven years is conventional—pursue a dream only to learn there has to be a solid body of values, not mere vapor, to mesh dream with reality, fame with life. What's extraordinary and remains constant to the original award-winning 1981 production is the concept of telling the story operatic-like through a continuous flow of music, movement and stage design. What's new to this production is an across the board 21st century update in costumes, make up, hairdos, choreography, setting, lighting, sound. It's visually awesome. At the Nov. 3 performance Chaz Lamar Shepherd was the standout as the loose-limbed dancer-singer James Early. He delivered demanding choreography with sly ease and literally spun a straw character into gold. Patrice Covington took on the role of Effie White, the original lead singer for the Dreamettes. Her standing ovation was earned. Particularly impressive was her development of a character going from being in charge to losing it all to recognizing she had to adjust, forgive and reconcile to make a comeback. The entire cast, crew and orchestra gave 150 per cent. A return to the Nov. 6 performance afforded the opportunity to experience Moya Angela in the lead role of Effie. From her first entry, it was clear Angela "is Effie." Angela's commanding presence lit up the stage; her voice lifted us into the realization, "here's a star." Angela's character development was measured in the 'small stuff'—body language, facial expressions, sensuality guarded vs unguarded vs guarded. We witness bravado morph into the kind of toughness you stand up and applaud and yell out, "Go Girl." And then you cry because Angela intuits you don't get there stepping on people, you get there embracing them. That makes a good show a memorable event.
Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Moya Angela (Effie), Chester Gregory (James Early), Trevon Davis (C.C.).

Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Moya Angela (Effie), Chester Gregory (James Early), Trevon Davis (C.C.).

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie)

Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie)

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Moya Angela (Effie)

Moya Angela (Effie)

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis) and Moya Angela (Effie).

Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis) and Moya Angela (Effie).

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Chester Gregory (James Early) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Chester Gregory (James Early) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Trevon Davic (C.C.), Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis) and Chester Gregory (James Early)

Trevon Davic (C.C.), Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis) and Chester Gregory (James Early)

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Trevon Davis (C.C.), Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis), Chauncey Jenkins (Wayne) and Chester Gregory (James Early).

Trevon Davis (C.C.), Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis), Chauncey Jenkins (Wayne) and Chester Gregory (James Early).

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie)

Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie)

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Margaret Hoffman (Michelle), Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Margaret Hoffman (Michelle), Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Margaret Hoffman (Michelle) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Margaret Hoffman (Michelle) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell).

Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell).

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


The company of DREAMGIRLS.

The company of DREAMGIRLS.

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Chester Gregory (James Early), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell)

Chester Gregory (James Early), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell)

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


The company of DREAMGIRLS.

The company of DREAMGIRLS.

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Margaret Hoffman (Michelle) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Margaret Hoffman (Michelle) and the company of DREAMGIRLS.

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Chester Gregory (James Early) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell).

Chester Gregory (James Early) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell).

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus


Margaret Hoffman (Michelle), Syesha Mercado (Deena) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell).

Margaret Hoffman (Michelle), Syesha Mercado (Deena) and Adrienne Warren (Lorrell).

Photo © & courtesy of Joan Marcus

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