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Dreamgirls - Theatre Royal Nottingham Review

Dreamgirls arrives in Nottingham as part of the show's first-ever UK and Ireland tour and it serves up an evening of fantastic entertainment illuminated by astonishing vocals.

Paige Peddie, Natalie Kassanga and Nicole Raquel Dennis as The Dreams. Photo by Matt Crockett

You may be forgiven for thinking the show is a jukebox musical but this original piece that first hit the stage on Broadway in 1981 tells of the fictional group 'The Dreams' and their journey through stardom. 

Act one focuses on the rise of the group that compromises of friends Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, who we first meet backstage at an amateur talent night. It's here they meet Curtis Taylor Jr, a car salesman who takes on the mantle of the group's manager.

It's the ambition and drive of Curtis Taylor Jr. that is the linchpin for the success but ultimately the division of the group as Effie's role of lead singer is given to Deena which causes a spiral in Effie's behaviour and leads to her exiting the group. 

As we head through the show the girls all mature and find their own power and voice but it's the humanity of the girls that attach you to them, despite the paths their put down the friendship comes through especially at the latter end of the show.

The show is fantastically embossed by Tim Hatley's set and costume design. The glamour grows mirroring the rise of the group from backstage and the spectacle is fantastic as the big musical numbers shine as bright as Hugh Vanstone's excellent lighting. 

If you thought visually this show looks great then it's the sound that shines arguably even better. A stonking good orchestra under Simona Budd delight with the top tapping Motown numbers but it's the voices of the cast that are the crowing glory. Some of the best vocals you'll hear anywhere. The big solo numbers and the perfectly pitched harmonies are just glorious.

Nicole Raquel Dennis as Effie White. Photo by Matt Crockett

The cast are magnificent but it's lead Nicole Raquel Dennis as Effie who shines brightest. This is her moment and she takes every second of it. Her big solo 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' is delivered with such astonishing goosebump inducing power that you just sit in awe of the talent you're witnessing. The song gets a deserving standing ovation as it comes at the end of act one. Amazing vocals aside though and Nicole does a stunning job of humanising Effie's journey as she's shunned from the lead vocals and ultimately unravels as is replaced from the group before her journey matures into motherhood in the second act. This is undoubtedly an award worthy performance and one of the finest you could see in any show.

Natalie Kassanga is fantastic as Deena Jones, she manages to convey the journey of well as things are thrown her way and she takes the mantle of the lead singer of the Dreams. Vocal perfection continues with Paige Peddie's Lorrell Robinson who deserves her own moment in the spotlight. Together the three Dreams - later joined by Brianna Ogunbawo as Michelle Morris once Effie is replaced - deliver gorgeous harmonies that show why the group deserve their rise. 

Dom Hartley-Harris, who has one of the finest male vocals you could hear, portrays the ambition and drive of Curtis Taylor Jr. really well. He is a man lost in the drive for the success of the group that he loses himself in that world and his backhand activities ultimately catch up with him. Shem Omari James on the other side is a hugely likeable presence as C.C. White who constantly is undermined by Curtis but in the end stands up for himself.

There's an outstandingly funny performance by the endlessly energised Brandon Lee Sears as Jimmy Early. His moments are wickedly outlandish mixing both stunning movement and another powerhouse vocal. 

Dreamgirls doesn't disappoint and for 2 and a half hour you're able to sit back soak up and well written piece with superb musical numbers and a cast whose talent will blow your socks off. Gorgeous musical theatre.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dreamgirls continues at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until Saturday 28th May. Tickets are available from The tour continues thereafter full details can be found at

The cast of Dreamgirls. Photo by Matt Crockett.

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