By Chris Heide
Dreamgirls is an amazingly polished feat of theatrical prowess. Recently debuting it’s run at the Village Theatre in Everett, Dreamgirls is a shockingly good piece of community theater- likely the best production of the entire year. It a swiftly moving, well executed show that deserves tremendous praise.
Dreamgirls has a hefty reputation to uphold. The Academy Award Winning Film, which was formed out of the original Broadway production, is a mere decade old. Popular culture insists that Jennifer Hudson embodies Effie and that is a magically tall order to recreate. Thankfully, this iteration stands well on its own merits and creates an audience experience that is both visceral and goosebump inducing.
The obvious star of this production is Angela Birchett as Effie, member of the fictional Dreametts. Effie, of course, is kicked out of the group because of her lack of commercial appeal and diva like attitude. Although this is a seemingly tired trope seen in numerous television shows and movies, this staging really allows Effie to resonate at the emotional centerpiece of Dreamgirls. Even when she is pouting, Effie remains the true heroine of the show.
Birchett does an outstanding job of nailing ‘And I am Telling You (I’m Not Going)’, the emotional apex of the show. There are likely very few power ballads that require such a diverse vocal range and raw emotional depth. Without a doubt, Birchett’s version is impeccably delivered and a true show stopping moment in the nearly two-and-a-half hour show.
Other standouts include Nathaniel Tenebaum as James Early and Alexandra Henderson as Lorrell.
Dreamgirls does not let up. The staging in this production is quite ingenious, with scenes blending seamlessly into each other. The musical score is demanding and vivacious, challenging each of the singer to nail he highest of high notes. This is not a show for vocally weak performers and the supporting cast does a tremendous job of living up to that challenge.
Overall, Dreamgirls is a solid, polished, high-quality production that helps to solidify the Village Theatre’s reputation as a regional musical theatre powerhouse.