‘Dreamgirls’ at Marriott Lincolnshire is cast perfectly
Rashidra Scott (from left), Raena White, Britney Coleman and Darilyn Burtley in "Dreamgirls." | Photo by Peter Coombs and the Marriott Theatre
at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire.
1 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 28.
$41 to $49.
(847) 634-0200, www.MarriottTheatre.com.
There is enough electricity in the Marriott Theatre’s production of “Dreamgirls” to power a small city.
From the intense opening beats the evening of Aug. 29 to the flamboyant finale nearly three hours later, this musical about money, sex and betrayal in the record business was ablaze with energy.
The 1981 Tony-winning Broadway show chronicles the careers of three young African-American singers from Chicago, who have formed a girl group called the Dreamettes. The plot is closely modeled on the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes.
In this fictionalized version, the girls go to New York City in the early 1960s, hoping to win a talent contest. Their career takes a different path, leading to a hit record. Its swift ascent up the Billboard music charts, however, is fueled by their unscrupulous promoter who bribes radio disc jockeys with what was then called “payola.”
The Marriott’s casting is perfection. Raena White plays Effie White, the Dreamettes’ lead singer. With her vibrant stage presence and powerful voice, she embodies the strong-willed Effie, whose rise, fall and resurrection provide the show’s high drama. Her defiant song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” is both show-stopper and heart-breaker.
Pretty Britney Coleman plays Deena Jones, whose lovely voice is deemed to be more suited to “crossover” than Effie’s. As the newly transformed trio, now known as the Dreams, prepare to break the color barrier in a lounge in a high-end Miami hotel, promoter Curtis Taylor, Jr. moves Deena to the lead spot, relegating Effie to the background.
Byron Glenn Willis is Curtis, and yes, his characters a real snake. But when Willis sings “When First I Saw You,” he imbues the man with just enough humanity to make us feel a tinge of sympathy when he loses everything, including the beautiful Deena.
Marriott’s third Dreamgirl is sassy Lorell Robinson, played by perky Rashida Scott, who brings just the right comic touch to her part. Lorell has a long romance with the very-married James “Thunder” Early, an initially successful R&B singer, in an explosive performance by Eric LaJuan Summers.
By the time the Dreams get to Las Vegas, Effie is missing rehearsals, calling in sick and gaining weight. We won’t find out why until later, but she is summarily replaced by Michelle Morris, played by Darilyn Burtley, who revs up the glamour of this now very classy trio.
In fact, this production is drenched in glamour. Nancy Missimi, Marriott’s multiple Jeff winning costumier, has created glorious attire for the singers — girlish full-skirted aqua frocks for their New York competition, sequined red gowns, eye-popping full-length pink dresses, form-fitting white sheaths, ruffled black capes, and sparkling blue and silver numbers, many worn with long feather boas, all with opera-length white gloves.
The show, with music by Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, has numerous sections in which dialogue is sung in rhyme, not unlike recitative in opera. Music director Doug Peck has made sure the audience can catch every word and director/choreographer Marc Robin has so elegantly crafted the show that the Dreams are visible from every seat in this four-sided theater.
Marriott’s “Dreamgirls” has everything — music, a gripping story with a touch of comedy and a dynamic production that pulls out all the stops. Don’t miss it. These girls will light up your dreams.