Friday, December 10, 2010

The Reviews Are in—Dreamgirls “Shines” in Memphis!




Friends, Memphians, countrymen—my name is Carolyn Fly and I’m the Press Coordinator at The Orpheum. Amy is temporarily away in the Big Apple for Pat Halloran’s Annual New York Trip so I’ve been given the privilege of letting you all know what’s been taking place at Memphis’ finest Theatre.

As most of you know, last week the Broadway sensation, Dreamgirls, made its Memphis premiere at The Orpheum. Rather than giving you an avalanche of commercial reviews, I’m giving you the scoop straight from The Orpheum’s favorite patrons, the students.

As part of the Education & Community Programs, The Orpheum’s STAR (Students Take A Role) reporters are a group of students selected from alumni of education programs—they help promote, produce, and report on events geared toward their generation. Below are excerpts from two Dreamgirls’ reviews written by Orpheum STAR reporters.

Lesley Stevenson is a student at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. This is her second year as a STAR reporter.

“Dreamgirls’ costumes glitter. Dreamgirls’ set sparkles. But it is Dreamgirls’ cast that truly shines.

Taken collectively, the costumes, set, songs, choreography, and individual performances maintain the eye-catching, awe-inspiring spectacle. Set in the 1960s and focusing on a singing trio of strong African-American women, Dreamgirls never stops. Though the production includes some actual show (or rather, concert)-within-a-show moments, the characters’ lives are comedic and dramatic enough to be the bulk of the production.

That’s really Dreamgirls’ point. Past the glitz and glam of the showbusiness life, the characters slowly but steadily expose the audience to the secret opportunistic and merciless world that produces the music we crave. Effie White, Deena Jones, and Lorrelle Robinson begin their journeys as the na├»ve Dreamettes, a soft-singing trio with aspirations of stardom, and they end as the mature Dreams, having been backup singers for James “Thunder” Early, replaced Effie with Michelle Morris, and reunited for a final farewell performance.”

“The show was wholly impressive. Its plot is simpler than others, but a straightforward plot allows for the extravagance of the songs, costumes, and lights. All of the elements come together to contribute to the overall theme of the production- a theme that pushes through the sequins and secrecy to comment on a basic idea: friendship. The Dreamettes formed a friendship with Curtis Taylor, Jr., and too slowly they realized its toxic, unstable nature. Deena and Lorrelle forsake their friendship with Effie, but realizing their wrongs, they reunite with a better understanding of themselves and of the world. A non-stop show filled with comedy, drama, and plenty of glitter, Dreamgirls is, without a doubt, a stunning performance.”

by Lesley Stevenson

Kevin Do is a student at Arlington High School. This is his second year as a STAR Reporter.

“Hello Everybody! I just saw the recent revival of the six-time Tony Award-winning musical Dreamgirls at the Orpheum, and this production is stellar. For just over two and half hours I was transported to the music scene of the sixties and seventies, a story about family told through a Behind the Music-esque plotline. Here’s my critique of the show based on Aristotle's Six Elements of Theatre on a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being the worst, 10 being the best) and my comments."

“Character: 9. Everybody remembers Jennifer Hudson’s performance in the Dreamgirls movie, and Moya Angela (the Effie on tour) is just as spectacular. Her energy is matched only by the other Dreams Syesha Mercado (in the Beyonce role Deena Jones) & Adrienne Warren as Lorrell and Chester Gregory as the electric Jimmy Early. One criticism would be that the ensemble was too comfortable in the show often showing on stage. But as the show progressed, the company began to gain energy and focus."

“Music: 10. Obviously, Henry Kieger’s music is the strongest component of Dreamgirls. With its soaring ballads and groovy dance songs, there isn’t much room for improvement in the show’s music. Dreamgirls and its amazing music is an iconic piece of musical theatre!”

“Spectacle: 9. Robin Wagner’s series five of LED panels make up Dreamgirls’s minimalistic set, but they definitely aren’t minimal on wow factor! Within seconds the audience is moved around the nation simply by having transforming images projected on the screens, and by shifting the location of the panels on the stage, new settings are created instantly. Although very successful, there were moments in the show where the bright panels upstaged the performers and their gorgeous William Ivey Long costumes. The dance numbers choreographed by director-choreographer Robert Longbottom were true to the time and yet accessible and modern in form.”

by Kevin Do

The Orpheum Theatre impacts the lives of over 40,000 children and families each year with our Education & Community Programs. Learn more about our programs here: http://www.orpheum-memphis.com/index.cfm?section=famed