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Home | Maine State Music Theater Reviews | Dream Girls at Maine State Music Theater - A Must See!

Dream Girls at Maine State Music Theater - A Must See!

photos by Audra Hatch photos by Audra Hatch

BRUNSWICK, ME - Maine State Music Theatre began the 2013 season with the classic 1981 Broadway musical production of Dreamgirls on Wednesday, June 5th.  The performance I attended on June 6th was sold out and MSMT Artistic Consultant, Curt Dale Clark along with WGME TV personality,  Kim Block, welcomed the audience to what will surely be another excellent season. 

 The show by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen, which continues at Bowdoin’s Pickard Theater through Saturday June 22, traces the rise and subsequent tribulations of a Supremes-style girl group (Dreamettes) in the 1960s and ‘70s.  What we see in this show is racial and gender bias, corruption, the growing power of television and a music industry that is all about appearances.  These characters are African-American performers trying to make it in a white-dominated industry and it is nearly impossible for them to break through; even having a white, Perry Como like character, remake one of their songs that moves past theirs on the charts.  

 Dreamgirls begins with the chance of a lifetime talent show at New York’s historic Apollo Theatre with three, young women, Effie (Bryonha Maria Parham - MSMT debut), Deena (Britney Coleman) and Lorrell (Trista Dollison - MSMT debut), with a little bit of talent and big dreams performing.  The opening scene is well executed with the audience actually viewing the performance from the backstage point of view.  Marc Robin, who is no stranger to the challenges of musical directing does a fine job in bringing this talented cast together and working with the layered action of the opening scene.  The cast is fully engaged and the singing is top notch.

 The strength of this show is on the backs of standout performances by Kelvin Roston, Jr. (MSMT debut), who plays the James Brown type character of Jimmy (James Thunder) and the musical trio of Bryonha Marie Parham (Effie White), Britney Coleman (Deena Jones) and Trista Dollison (Lorrell Robinson) really carry the show.  Roston is electric in this role and is one of the shows true standouts.   

 Dreamgirls centers around the misunderstood Effie White played by Bryonha Marie Parham.  This show is all about singing and some incredible vocalists have played this leading role over the years including Jennifer Hudson in the 2006 film, so she has big shoes to fill.  However, Parham is definitely up to the challenge and does an outstanding job in her dialogue and singing.  She brings down the rafters with her rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” at the end of the first act.  She has amazing chemistry with her boyfriend/manager, the smooth talking, Curtis Taylor, Jr. played by Byron Glenn Willis (MSMT debut).  His vocal performances are notable in “It’s All Over” and “You Are My Dream” and is effective as the manipulator destined to dream one too many dreams.  

 The rest of the cast holds their own as well. Trista Dollisons’ innocent Lorrell is a bubbly counterpart to Bryonhas’ Effie and is totally immersed in her role, funny and some of her high notes are off the charts.  She was one of my favorites.  Brittany Colemans’ Deena Jones, a character that reminds me of Diana Ross or Whitney Houston, absolutely owns the stage as the leader of the group and vocal force after they change their name from theDreamettes to the Dreams. 

 Robins does a great job with “Fake Your way to the Top” and “Steppin’ to the Bad Side”.  His choreography is always great to watch.  You Will quickly get enthused by the sheer energy and deep emotional truth in this modern operetta.

 Eric B. Anthony who plays Effie’s brother, C.C. White stood out in his small role as a song writer and his singing was amazing.  He did an excellent job with this small role, which for me is the mark of a great actor.  

 The cast is rounded out by Dave/Ensemble (Brian Bohr), Frank/Ensemble (Steve Calzaretta), Tiny Joe Dixon (Jeremiah Haley), Wayne (Paul-Jordan Jansen), Michelle Morris/Ensemble (Karissa Harris), Marty (Trinity P. Murdock), M.C./Jerry/Mr. Morgan/Ensemble (Terance Reddick), Joanne/Ensemble (La’nette Wallace), Charlene (Tamara Young) and ensemble characters Antoinette Comer, Elgin Giles, Khadijah Rolle and Britton Smith.  Jansen and Young impressed with me with their strong vocal performances.

 Kurt Alger, who has done numerous shows at MSMT did a great job with the many wigs and quick costume changes were seamless.  I thought the sets, under the direction of Scenic Designer, Robert Andrew Kovach, were perfect for the show. 

 The eight piece band under the skillful leadership of pianist/conductor, Jason Wetzel did an excellent job as we have come to expect at MSMT. 

 

 

 Despite a few technical production issues, which I am certain will be addressed as the show continues its run, this show is definitely worth seeing and I would recommend it.  You should plan on getting your tickets now before it sells out.  The box office is located at Bowdoin College’s Pickard Theater and is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday; Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. - through last intermission; Sunday (on performance days only) 12 Noon until last intermission.  You can also call (207) 725-8769 with a valid credit card and online at: www.msmt.org.  

 

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