Porchlight’s “Dreamgirls” Review – Soul Triumph

L to R Katherine Thomas, Candace C. Edwards and Donica Lynn

 

Come to see Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of the award-winning Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” knowing it’s the stuff of standing ovations--not one, but several, and with the first one long before intermission. 

 

Brenda Didier (Direction/Choreography) and Doug Peck (Musical Direction/Orchestrations) have assembled a super-talented cast in as many costume changes as scenes (Costume Design:  Bill Morey),

 

(L to R) Kyrie Courter “Michelle Morris," Candace C. Edwards “Deena Jones,” Donica Lynn “Effie White” and Katherine Thomas, “Lorrell Robinson"

 

with voices ranging from butterscotch sweet to soulful passions able to scale the peaks of Mount Everest in one leap. 

 

( L to R) Donica Lynn “Effie White,” Candace C. Edwards “Deena Jones” and Katherine Thomas, “Lorrell Robinson”

 

Dreamgirls tells the story of an imagined Chicago-born girl’s group (Dreamgirls – Donica Lynn, Candace C. Edwards, and Katherine Thomas) that rides to the top of the popular musical scene thanks to the machinations of a shady manager (Evan Tyrone Martin) who has figured out how to break down racial barriers and cut out all competitors along the way. 

 

'Dreamgirls' from DREAMGIRLS Presented by Porchlight Music Theatre from Porchlight Music Theatre on Vimeo.

 

(L to R) Evan Tyrone Martin “Curtis Taylor Jr.,” Candace C. Edwards “Deena Jones” and Donica Lynn “Effie White”

 

Candace C. Edwards “Deena Jones”

 

(L to R) Katherine Thomas, “Lorrell Robinson” and Eric Lewis “Jimmy Earl"

 

Rivalries within the group motor the drama, but truth to tell, as you leave the theater with your pulse quickened by tour de force soul singing, the story (book and lyrics by Tom Eyen; Music by Henry Krieger) seems more a footnote to this production’s stirring showcase of vocal talent. 

 

(L to R) Eric Lewis “Jimmy Early” Candace C. Edwards “Deena Jones,” Donica Lynn “Effie White,” Katherine Thomas, “Lorrell Robinson," Gilbert Domally, “C.C. White,” and Evan Tyrone Martin “Cutis Taylor Jr.”

 

Expect your soul to be especially stirred by Donica Lynn playing a lead singer demoted to backup by her somewhat lover and the group’s manager.  

 

(L to R) Donica Lynn “Effie White” and Gilbert Domally, “C.C. White”

 

In the program notes we read that Lynn in real-life has shown herself to be the same kind of fighter (3-time battles with brain cancer) that the survive-and-thrive character she brings to life on this stage is.   

 

Donica Lynn “Effie White”

 

At one point she hold forth in a solo with Doug Peck accompanying her on piano that seems more like a conversation with Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, in which she repeats “Thank you sister.  Yes, I can do that and I can do this too!”.  WOW! 

 

'Steppin' to the Bad Side' from DREAMGIRLS Presented by Porchlight Music Theatre from Porchlight Music Theatre on Vimeo.

 

 

But it’s not just Lynn—this is a talent –packed cast where ensemble dance moves matter just as much as the standout vocal solos. 

 

Cast of Dreamgirls

 

'Fake Your Way to the Top' from DREAMGIRLS Presented by Porchlight Music Theatre from Porchlight Music Theatre on Vimeo.

 

(center) Eric Lewis as “Jimmy Early"

 

Triple threat Eric Lewis, seeming to channel James Brown and Little Richard at once, delights not only with voice but with dance hijinks that will leave you yearning for his return to the center stage. 

 

Not to be missed, Porchlight’s “Dreamgirls”  has already been extended and with extra performances added now through May 22.

 

Stage 773

1225 W. Belmont

Chicago

 

For tickets or information call 773 327 5252 or visit the Porchlight Music Theatre website.

 

 Photos by Kelsey Jorissen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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