The Harlem Repertory Theatre's scaled-down revival of the Broadway musical about a troubled singing group benefits from the soaring performances of its three female stars.
In case you don't know, Dreamgirls, co-written by Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger, tells the story of a Supremes-like singing group, eventually headed by the beautiful Deena Jones (Natalia Peguero), after original star singer Effie White (Dion Millington) is thrown out of the trio.
Grant has made a lot of smart choices in the staging, giving the show pace and speed. However, the changing of the audience seating in the second act -- allowing for a closer view of the performers -- ultimately adds up to much less than is suggested in the program.
What makes the show work as well as it does is the casting of the three lead women. Peguero is the right combination of beautiful and innocent with a light, pleasing pop voice to play the role of Deena. Similarly, Isis Kenny very nearly steals the show as Lorrell, the trio's third original member, and the way she plays her relationship with James Thunder Early (the promising Eric Myles at our performance) is funny and sassy. This young woman can sing with both bite and beauty.
Best of all is Millington's performance as Effie -- especially her performances of her big ballads, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and "I Am Changing," both of which are electrifying.
Unfortunately, the men in the production, most notably Oscar Aguirre as Curtis Taylor, the group's slimy manager who leaves Effie for Deena, simply don't live up to their female counterparts, and the production crashes to the ground when they're on stage!