Nothing short of a dazzling dream come true, Dreamgirls presented by McCoy Rigby Entertainment opened at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts on Saturday night to a sold out crowd.
It’s 1962. The show opens at The Apollo Theater, where we first meet the Dreamettes, a female group featuring lead singer, Effie White (Moya Angela) and backup vocalists, Deena Jones (Jasmin Richardson) and Lorrell Robinson (Brittany Johnson). Accompanying the trio is Effie’s brother and songwriter, C.C. White (John Devereaux). The ladies perform in the Amateur Night competition, hoping to finally be discovered. Meanwhile, a used car salesman named Curtis Taylor Jr (Scott A. People) is backstage trying to make a sale when he notices a business opportunity present itself. He finagles his way in becoming the Dreamettes’ new manager. Curtis then sways Marty, the manager of R&B sensation, James “Thunder” Early (David LaMarr) to hire his new group, The Dreamettes as Jimmy’s backup singers.
Jimmy and the Dreamettes have a successful run together, however, Curtis now has his eyes set on turning the Dreamettes into their own headlining act. In an attempt to appeal to a larger general audience, he changes the groups name to The Dreams. He also has Deena takeover lead vocals forcing Effie to step down as backup singer. The news doesn’t bode well with Effie, whom is now dating Curtis. During this time, he also replaces Marty as Jimmy’s manager.
By 1965, The Dreams achieve success as mainstream artists. Meanwhile, Effie’s diva attitude has become a burden on the group. Her temperamental behavior is also being fueled by Deena’s rising popularity and Curtis’ desire to make her a superstar. Concurrently, Effie begins to miss shows due to “illness.” Curtis is convinced that she is purposely trying to sabotage the group, due to her jealousy. He then decides to replace Effie with a new member, Michelle Morris (Danielle Truitt) and changes the groups name to, Deena Jones and The Dreams. Effie pleads with Curtis but he walks out on her and their relationship…
By 1972, Curtis and Deena are married. Deena Jones and The Dreams have become one of the most successful groups in the nation but Jimmy is struggling to keep his career afloat with no help from his manager, Curtis. C.C. has written a new ballad for the group but Curtis wants to take the groups sound in a different direction. Frustrated, C.C. confides in Michelle, who is now his girlfriend and she encourages him to reconcile with his estranged sister, Effie. Meanwhile in Chicago, Jimmy’s former manager, Marty agrees to help Effie resurrect her stagnant career. C.C. presents Effie with the ballad, hoping this will prove useful for her comeback. Curtis also releases C.C.’s song but as a disco track and bribes radio stations to keep Effie’s version off the air.
Deena informs Curtis that she wants to quit music to pursue other opportunities but he won’t allow her to. Marty soon discovers Curtis’ use of payola and brings legal action against him. Deena and Effie have an emotional reunion and with her help finds the courage to leave Curtis.
Now 1975, we are back at The Apollo Theater, where it all began. Deena and The Dreams are on stage for their farewell concert and invite Effie White to join them. All 4 Dreamgirls take their final bow together.
The Tony-Award winning musical features book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger. In 2006, the musical was adapted into a motion picture starring Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose. A new song called “What Love Can Do” was added to this stage production. The song “Listen” from the feature film was also added to the show, however, beautifully rewritten as a duet between Effie and Deena. The costume designs by William Ivey Long were breathtaking and proved ingenious as they provided the actors with a quick-change during the musical numbers. The choreography by Robert Longbottom was an accurate depiction of dance stylizations and a throwback to the era.
Moya Angela (Effie White) is undoubtedly the star of the production. She received two standing ovations throughout the evening, including mid show, after her powerhouse performance in “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Angela previously played Effie White in the National Tour of Dream Girls. Her other credits include The Lion King and Ghost the Musical (Broadway)
Jasmin Richardson (Deena Jones) takes on the role as lead singer of the female singing trio. Richardson plays her characters transformation from backup singer to diva flawlessy! Her vocals gleam in the duet, “Listen” alongside co-star, Moya Angela. Richardson’s previous credits include Memphis and Drowsy Chaperone (Regional)
Brittany Johnson (Lorrell Robinson) has a big voice and is full of sass in her role as the 3rd member of The Dreams. Johnson also has incredible chemistry with her love interest David LaMarr (Jimmy Early). Her past credits include Les Miserables, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Motown the Musical (Broadway)
David LaMarr (James “Thunder” Early) portrays the R&B sensation with magnetism and some killer dance moves. LaMarr truly is a scene stealer! His previous credits include Disney’s When You Wish, The Little Mermaid and Mulan (Regional)
The sights and sounds of McCoy Rigby’s production of Dreamgirls is truly sensational and triumphant! Remember, all you got to do is DREAM! The show runs now through April 17, 2016. Tickets are available by calling 562-944-9801 or online at https://lamiradatheatre.secure.force.com, or by visiting the La Mirada Theatre Box Office. Ticket prices start at $20. The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard, La Mirada, CA 90638.