Saturday 9 March, 2024

Dreamgirls’ cast and crew

Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre’s “Dreamgirls”

by Olivia Barrett, Editorial Associate

From the costumes to the lights to vocals, the Orpheus Musical Theatre’s production of Dreamgirls captivated the nearly packed audience on its penultimate night at Meridian Theatre at Centrepointe. Orpheus Musical Theatre is a not-for-profit charity that has been putting on a wide range of musical performances in the city of Ottawa since 1906.

Inspired by stories of all-girls singing trios in the 1960s and 1970s, like the Supremes, Dreamgirls follows three best friends as their careers take off after being discovered at a talent show. From a demanding manager to bruised egos, high tensions and broken hearts, Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson experience all stardom has to offer.  

At its core, Dreamgirls is described as “a love letter to American R&B music and the artists that make such music great” in the show synopsis.

“It is a story of empowerment but also a warning to be diligent,” said Micah Jondel DeShazer in the director’s message.

This cast was the perfect way to bring this story to life. With the vocals of the entire cast blending together beautifully in every number, the solos sprinkled throughout the show featured each singer’s strong vocals. Their abilities to demonstrate complex emotions through their voices brought the performance to another level.

While Effie sang (And I’m Telling You) I’m Not Going, the audience could feel each of her gasps as she cried through the ending of the song. This was far from the first time her voice captured the voice, as she received thunderous applause at the end of each of her solos – sometimes even during.

In addition to applause from the audience, the lighting further complemented the vocals. In Effie’s version of One Night Only, the deep colours aim dim lights set the tone for the soul version. However, the lights and colours for the rendition by Deena and the Dreams were brighter, bolder and set a more upbeat tone for the disco version. Despite their stark differences, both songs were further enhanced by the lighting and costumer colours to make the audience feel immersed in the show. Through bold and confident dances, the cast illustrated the constant rise and fall of emotions throughout the show.

The diversity of the cast also allowed the show to incorporate a wide variety of genres. The mix of soul, rap, R&B and pop showed the range of the performers throughout the entire show. Despite these genres being vastly different, each number transitioned smoothly into the next.

The show included a sentimental touch during the I Am Changing – Vogue number. As the “photographers” on stage took photos of the Deena and the Dreams, real photos of the cast were projected onto the screen behind the stage, invoking a positive reaction from the audience.

As Dreamgirls tells the story of talented and passionate rising stars, the cast was full of this same passion, making it a memorable performance.