Tuesday, February 17, 2015

reviews - DREAMGIRLS - Desert Foothills Theater

Chanel Bragg, Krystal Pope and Jacqueline Rushing
(photo: TIffany Bollock)
For more information on this production, that runs through March 1st, click here.

"Run, don't walk, to catch Dreamgirls at Desert Foothills Theater. The Broadway classic is receiving a sensational production with excellent performances, clear and defined direction, period perfect choreography, and some striking costume designs.  At the center of the story is Effie. Chanel Bragg is stunning in the part, providing plenty of nuance and layers underneath the role of the somewhat difficult performer. Bragg gets two Broadway showstoppers, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and "I Am Changing," and she knocks them out of the park. Krystal Pope is equally strong as Deena. While it is the less flashy of the two parts, Deena is the driving force of many of the confrontations in the second act, and Pope does well navigating through the changes that her character experiences. There isn't a weak link in the lead cast, or in the ensemble, who play various parts throughout the multiple scenes and over the many years the story takes place. It is hard to believe that Damon Bolling is making his musical directorial debut with this production, as his direction is so fluid and his command of the actors and story so effective. Choreographed by Lynzee 4Man, her steps and movements work so well in conjunction with Boling's direction that the overall effect is that of a perfectly seamless production. While the decision to have no elaborate set design, and just have the action unfold in front of the ten-piece band at center stage, seems at first to be an odd decision, Boling proves that with clear direction and a great script you don't need elaborate sets to get across the emotional journey of this show. With a score that features non-stop music from the many overlapping musical sequences, the underscore and the show-stopping performance numbers, Dan Kurek's driving music direction is superb. This is a difficult score to sing, and this cast doesn't miss a beat. Desert Foothills Theater has produced an outstanding production of this classic musical." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"There is no scenery to speak of. You are inclined to wonder how such an ambitious endeavor as mounting an award-winning musical known for the divas who made it famous will fly here. And then, you're blown away! You're simply in awe of the explosive vocal artistry of the ensemble. You're reminded again of the power of an individual's artistic vision. You are exhilarated by the wealth of local talent that resides in your community. In his directorial debut, Damon J. Bolling has more than fulfilled his dream of staging this show; he has delivered a powerhouse theatrical experience ~ and you could care less if there's splashy scenery. The team has set the minimalist stage for a cast that will literally knock your socks off, grab you by the lapel, and speed up your adrenaline. Honestly, you don't need to think about Jennifer Hudson or BeyoncĂ© when Chanel Bragg and Krystal Pope belt out their numbers. The two have mastered their respective roles and given definition and authenticity to their characters. The story has its dramatic twists and love turns. It's got a great score. It's classic Broadway! And it's a must see show" -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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