by Beth Settje, Staff Writer
The musical, Dreamgirls, now playing at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT through September 1st, is a solid and entertaining production. The show manages to create an environment where we are transported back in time to the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. There, we are introduced to three young women, Deena, Effie, and Lorrell, singers who have dreams of success as they try to find their way in the entertainment industry. They meet a car salesman looking to back an act and he is impressed by their performance. With some shady maneuvering, he takes over their management and the three women are on their way to stardom. Along the way, they have various trials and tribulations, some which make them stronger and others that crush them. The musical documents the successes and failures of the aptly named Dreams, as well as the men in their lives, who include their manager Curtis, Effie’s brother/songwriter CC, another singer and Lorrell’s love interest Jimmy.
The set is sparse, so the focus is truly on the performers and the music. Standouts include Ashley Jeudy’s Lorrell, Caliaf St. Aubyn’s Jimmy, and Sheniqua Denise Trotman’s Effie. Each manages to dig deep and project major emotion and sincerity in their portrayals. Though Trotman is the lead, and she carries it well, Aubyn steals the show, transforming himself from a caricature into a solid character, with depth and tragedy. Damian Norfleet as Curtis was difficult to understand when speaking, but his singing was solid. He did however manage to clearly sell his character very well as the master manipulator, setting up the cast to do his bidding while he achieved his plans. Like others who have fallen, Curtis did not see his end coming and his demise was perhaps the most satisfying.
The big numbers which, left the audience clamoring for more, included, “Steppin’ To The Bad Side,” “It’s All Over,” and “(And I’m Telling you) I’m Not Going” in act one; “I am Changing” and “I Meant You No Harm” were highlights of the second act. The music was flawless, if a bit loud at times, which occasionally overpowered the singers.
Playing only through this weekend, ending on September 1st, Dreamgirls is a welcome respite for these last days of summer.