Dreamgirls - Original London Cast Album
Masterworks Broadway released the 2016 Original London Cast Recording of "Dreamgirls" on May 12, 2017. It has garnered five Olivier award nominations, and Amber Riley was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her explosive performance. It is also available digitally everywhere such things are sold.
The Dreamettes are a girl R&B group struggling in Chicago, IL. Effie White (Amber Riley), Deena Jones (Liisi LaFontaine), and Lorrell Robinson (Ibinabo Jack) are discovered by Curtis Taylor, Jr. (JoeAaron Reid). He wrangles them a gig as backup for Jimmy Early (Adam J. Bernard). Through their own determination and some manipulation, the gals become The Dreams and a household name. Fame sours the group. Catastrophic changes occur: affairs are revealed, deception runs rampant. The whole team must learn to live with the consequences of their selfish actions.
Production by composer Henry Krieger, and mixing by Andy Bradfield ensure that the tracks of this album reflect the performances on the West End. Much of the script's spoken dialogue is included such as the origin story narrative of the Girls in the tracks "Goin' Downtown," and the showdown drama of "It's All Over." Overall, this is a smoothly produced cast album. The vocals contain the raw tension of live performance but the backing orchestrations do not. Audience appreciation is included at the end of some tracks. It is difficult to tell if it is live or not.
American audiences will recognize Amber Riley's powerful voice from her tenure on "Glee" (2009 - 2015). "Dreamgirls" gives her a chance to really shine. Her performance of "And I'm Telling You..." will draw listeners to this CD, but it's not her only triumph on the album. Her performances of "One Night Only" and "I Am Changing" deserve equal attention.
Lesser known in the U.S. artists Ibinabo Jack and Liisi LaFontaine give exceptional performances. LaFontaine's rendition of "Ain't No Party" is impassioned. Jack's voice isn't showcased the way Riley or LaFontaine's are but her contributions to the album are equally as impressive.
Adam J. Bernard has an expressive voice. "Cadillac Car" and "I Want You Baby" are beautifully sung. "The Rap" sounds like James Brown after a hard night of drinking.
The UK premiere of Dreamgirls opened at the Savoy Theatre in December 2016. It was lead by director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw ("The Book of Mormon," and "Something Rotten!"), musical supervisor Nick Finlow, and orchestrator Harold Wheeler, with additional material by Willie Reale. This Original London Cast Recording is produced by composer Henry Krieger and mixed by Andy Bradfield.
The original Broadway production of "Dreamgirls" by Tom Eyen (book and lyrics) and Henry Krieger (music) directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, opened in 1981 and won six Tony Awards. Jennifer Holliday's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" is a musical theatre classic. "Dreamgirls" was made into a blockbuster hit movie in 2006. It starred Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover and Jamie Foxx.
"Dreamgirls: Original London Cast Recording"
Book and lyrics by Tom Eyen
Music by Henry Krieger