Did the critics go dreamy over Amber Riley in Dreamgirls?
The musical opened at the Savoy Theatre last night
Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage
"This is huge, incredibly noisy and with the emotional impact of a juggernaut. But I couldn't stop smiling with pleasure all the time I was watching it."
"The energy of [the] early sections is breathtaking – and the performances, particularly from Amber Riley's Effie are enough to blow your socks off."
"The second act doesn't have quite the same momentum as the first, though it does open with a performance in Las Vegas by the new Dreamgirls (without Effie) where the dazzling red and orange fans of the lighting (design by Hugh Vanstone) perfectly and simply conjure a time and a place. "
"In a "hideously white" musical world, Dreamgirls is a joy-filled corrective, full of panache and passion."
Lyndsey Winship, The Guardian
"[Dreamgirls is] less about the grit and sweat of the struggle to the top, more a fantastically entertaining ride on the showbiz rollercoaster, accompanied by some brilliantly belting voices.
"Gregg Barnes's costumes, dipped in an acid palette and a truckload of sequins, track the movement of time, gown by gown (with some awesome quick changes). And respect to Josh Marquette's hair design – you can see the wigs getting more expensive with every move up the charts."
"Riley is a real star in her first West End role... Her massive voice rips through the auditorium, the killer line: "You're gonna love me" addressed first to the man breaking her heart, then direct to the audience. "You're gonna love me," she growls again, and it's not an appeal, it's an order. And we do."
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard
"Adam J Bernard is an athletic and vocally attractive Early, while Joe Aaron Reid's Curtis radiates menace and ugly ambition. There's charming, sensitive work from Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack as Effie's fellow Dreamettes... and Tyrone Huntley... brings a quiet magnetism to Effie's songwriting brother CC."
"The original Eighties production by Michael Bennett was notable for its giant mobile towers of lights, which neatly established the different locations. They're preserved by current director Casey Nicholaw, whose fluent interpretation boasts gorgeous costumes and choreography tighter than a lobster's shell."
"It's the dynamic performances that propel this passionate musical, and Amber Riley's is as thrilling as any I can recall."
Ann Treneman The Times
"This musical will be a hit but it doesn't deserve to be... it feels dated and formulaic."
"The plot is far too skimpy, the script having way too much in common with a bikini, existing mainly in the form of a few often-clunky sentences to link an over-abundance of songs."
"It's impossible to feel attached to these cardboard cut-outs, only amazement at their voices, coupled with a desire for earplugs."
"None of this helped when, as the decibel level just got louder in the second half, it all began to feel like a nightmare that wouldn't end. There is nothing dreamy about this, despite the instant standing ovation."
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
"Without question, Riley is the biggest reason to buy a ticket: she makes even the more ordinary numbers sound like show-stoppers and when she reaches the first half's absolute belter, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", packed with hurt, defiance and soulful passion, she has the audience rising to applaud her. What a voice!"
"The athleticism on display, in synchronised dance moves that conjure some of the silliness as well as the sexiness of the Sixties and Seventies, is as joyous as it is unflagging. No one seems to break into a sweat."
"What does this show fundamentally offer? Tremendous gusto of soul and gaiety of spirit. Given the sort of jittery year we've had, who'd not want a piece of that?"
Paul Taylor, The Independent
"Boy, does [Dreamgirls] hit the stage as if it means business in Casey Nicholaw's full-throttle, fast-moving blast of a production which he also choreographed."
"The choreography and the restless riot of costumes (Greg Barnes) are campily in-period. In this Darwinian sartorial world, it's the Survival of the Spangliest. The dressers backstage deserve honorary Olympic golds for managing the many lightning changes of outfit, sometimes during the course of a single number."
"The score skilfully projects pop and rhythm and blues through a Broadway filter and lets you hear the difference between the manufactured and authentic self-expression. "
Dreamgirls is currently booking at the Savoy Theatre until 6 May 2017.