Archikulture Digest

Dream Girls

Dream Girls

By Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen

Directed and choreographed by Ray Hatch

Starring Jayne Trinette, Cherry Hamlin, Jasmine Thompson and Van Dobbins.

Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando, FL</strong>

There’s some serious hair in this show – wigs that tower to the lights, afros emitting their own gravity field, and that pompadour with sideburns could scare small children in the next theatre. This is a classic rock and roll story – the Dreamettes leave Chicago for New York, they feel certain they can win the Apollo Talent show. Lorrell (Thompson) and Deena (Hamlin) are gung ho, but Effie (Trinette) is ready to head back home. They lose the contest but get a gig as backup singers for James “Thunder” Early (Clinton Harris) courtesy of shifty hustler Curtis Taylor (Dobbins). Effie is reluctant to sing back up, but Curtis points out you don’t just step into stardom; you have to work your way up the ladder. It’s the classic call to adventure and the girls are off on the roller coaster to stardom. The back stage romances are brutal, the music an excellent flash back to the glory days of R&B, and while racism is always lurking, and we see talent can get you into places your daddy never dreamed about. Emotions are up, down, and all over the charts and even though this band is a complete fabrication, it’s a darn interesting one.

The story is solid, music is grand, and there’s a live band in back somewhere pounding out blues and doo-wop and soul and even some light weight disco. Acting is top notch as well, there’s some sparks in the romance between Effie and Curtis, but not as many as fly between Effie and Deena when Deena becomes the lead singer. There’s a mob of supporting actors, Dwayne Allen plays Marty, Early’s manager and speaks as the voice of the past. Jamil Claxon is Effie’s brother C.C. the geeky songwriter who writes hits on command, and Kevin Zepf is the utility white guy, he rips off Early’s hit “Cadillac Car” complete with Perry Como sweater. And then there’s Michael Sapp as “Tiny Joe Dixon”, the blues man who out performs the early Dreamettes singing “Takin’ The Long Way Home.”

While the first act feels long, there’s no shortage of great tunes from “Fake Your Way To The Top” to Early’s version of “Cadillac Car” to the tear jerker “I Meant You No Harm”. Hatch’s choreography is amazing, the cast stays in constant motion and the crew removes props and set pieces quickly and occasionally before the actors is done with them. As Mad Cow Productions go, this one is outstanding and well worth the trip down town, rain or shine.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com


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