Kavita Ashton reviews the sequin-studded production of Dreamgirls at Bristol Hippodrome, running from 5 to 22 January.

If you love music of the sixties and seventies a la The Supremes and James Brown, don’t pass up the chance to see the multi-award winning West End production of Dreamgirls while it’s in town. The changing sound and fashion of the decades is the glittering backdrop to this tale about a Black girl band navigating the ruthless realities of showbiz.

Dreamgirls musical ensemble

Image credit - Matt Crockett

Despite what its creators may say, the Dreamgirls plot undoubtedly echoes parts of the Diana Ross and The Supremes story. It follows Effie, Lorrell and Deena (aka The Dreamettes, later The Dreams) on a rollercoaster-like rise to fame engineered by manipulative manager Curtis Taylor Jr, who swaps out feisty lead singer Effie for the softer sounding Deena. The changing dynamic tests the group’s friendships to the very limits, with broken hearts, stifled dreams and belting voices along the way.

The whole cast dazzles as much as The Dreams' sequin-covered jumpsuits (which are now on my wardrobe wishlist), effortlessly delivering spectacular vocals, high energy choreography and some lightening speed costume changes.

Deena and Curtis in Dreamgirls musical

Image credit - Matt Crockett

There’s no doubt that Nicole Raquel Dennis steals the show as Effie White, though. Her voice fills every inch of the auditorium and then some, leaving jaws on the floor during her spine-tingling performance of the musical’s biggest hitting song, And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going. The audience are on their feet for a standing ovation as she wraps up the first half of the show.

If Dennis sounds familiar, you may have caught her on The Voice in 2019. Judge Jennifer Hudson, who played Effie in the 2006 Dreamgirls film, jumped on stage to duet And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going with her during auditions.  

Jimmy Early and The Dreamettes in Dreamgirls musical

Image credit - Matt Crockett

Brandon Lee Sears' performance as larger-than-life soul singer Jimmy Early also deserves a mention. He wins the biggest laughs of the night with his outrageously flirty and energetic persona, while also representing frustrations that come from catering to white audiences for the sake of commercial success.

Enter the sparkling world of Dreamgirls at Bristol Hippodrome until 22 January. Tickets are available here

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The Bristol Hippodrome
Bristol Hippodrome theatre inside

One of the country's top provincial theatres, which proudly continues to stage major West End and Broadway productions.