“Dreamgirls,” the glitzy, loose fictionalization of the Supremes becoming stars through the 1960s and 70s, premiered August 22 on the cusp of Leo and Virgo.
And the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre faithful rose to their feet.
Opening night certainly enjoyed its share of star-quality moments. The vocal chops of Raena White as the top-then-toppled Dreamette, Effie, are alone worth the price of admission. The powerful “(And I Am Telling You) I’m Not Going” closes the first act with all the angst and force of a theatrical hurricane.
Eric LaJuan Summers, as R&B star James “Thunder” Early, shines with impeccable vocals, comic presence and rubber band elasticity in his choreography. Someone needs to write a Little Richard musical biopic and make Summers a national name among the Broadway elite.
Also deserving top billing for this production is costume designer Nancy Missimi. Marriott’s theater-in-the-square configuration requires a minimalist approach to set design. It makes Missimi’s wardrobing critical to achieving the visual pizzazz required of this story about a band of national touring entertainers. (See a full story synopsis here.)
Of all, Missimi’s blue and purple gown with the glittering sunburst array, sported by gorgeous Britney Coleman as Deena in the show’s penultimate scene, deserves a Jefferson Award of its very own.
So for all these reasons and a host of others, including the “Dreamgirls” book making this musical a compelling story, Chicagoland theatre-goers ought to buy tickets to see this most professional production.
But buy them for October.
Because despite all these opening-week accolades and deserved standing ovations, truth be told, smart money is on this “Dreamgirls” ensemble being a cast of Libras.
Top-notch regional professional theater takes its exceptionally talented casts from opening rehearsal to opening night in a matter of a few weeks. That leaves mere amateurs marveling at how actors manage to remember their lines, much less all the advanced choreography and complex vocalizations.
But the actors do; and they do it extremely well.
However, when compared to long-running touring companies coming through the city, whose troupes might have performed together hundreds of times… Let’s just say this “Dreamgirls” cast will be even better with several weeks of performances under its belt.
Their dialogue will be crisper. Their movements will be more fluid. And their ensemble singing will be tighter.
So local theater patrons should enjoy the winding down of summer by taking in a show at their choice of other fabulous local professional and amateur venues (some suggestions here). Let this immensely talented company work through its collective dream.
But they should save a few entertainment dollars for October.
Because as Virgo turns into Libra, “Dreamgirls” will be the hottest ticket in town, as its stars illuminate a spectacular, seasoned ensemble.
“Dreamgirls” runs through October 28 at the Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire; tickets are $41-$49 with student and senior discounts and dinner packages available. Parking is free. Tickets and information are available through the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847-634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.