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Our Top 10 Moments of the Dreamgirls Original London Cast Recording
After opening to rave reviews at the Savoy Theatre last November, some 35 years since premiering on Broadway, the West End cast of Dreamgirls has recently been immortalised in the Original London Cast Recording of the show which hits the shelves and digital outlets this Friday.
We were lucky enough to get a sneaky first-listen to the double album which features all the music from the show written by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen and has been produced by Krieger and mixed by Andy Bradfield. The live recording features the full original West End cast complete with 14-piece band and the audience, and features iconic songs from the musical including "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", "I Am Changing", "Listen" and "One Night Only".
To celebrate the release of the CD, we rounded up our Top 10 moments of the album to get you excited about its release...
Originally written for the 2006 film starring Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson this incredible number has now been added to the stage production as an eleven o'clock number that brings together Effie and Deena late in the second act as they confront their differences and bond over their history together and give each other strength to keep going. Written by Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, and Beyoncé the song was used in the film to express Deena breaking away from her relationship with Curtis. On stage it comes together as a firey duet of sisterhood as Deena asks Effie for help to find her true self. This track blends the incredible voices of Liisi LaFontaine as Deena and Amber Riley as Effie, making one of the most memorable numbers of the show, often causing yet another mid-show ovation. On CD this drama and passion collide creating an incredible and memorable breakout number.
9. Steppin' to the Bad Side
Michael Bennett's original staging of this impressive number has gone down in history as one of the most iconic moments of modern musical theatre. A shift in gear musically, the song comes mid-way through the first act where Curtis and CC. agree to bribe DJ's across America to play the track on the back of their negative encounter with the song "Cadillac Car" which was usurped by white pop singers. The song acts as a new single for Jimmy Early and the Dreamettes, but also suggests the extent of which the 'bad side' has to be met in order to get ahead in the industry. Joe Aaron Reid, Tyrone Huntley and cast knock this number out of the park with one of the show's most impressive dance sequences, but the number sounds equally powerful in translating that energy into recorded form.
8. Hard to Say Goodbye
One of the most emotional moments of the show comes at the very end as The Dreams perform their final number together that explains their journey of success but admit that it will be hard to say goodbye to each other and move on. Effie rejoins the group for their final reprise against a stunning set and costume design that ends the whole musical on a high. This number is powerfully delivered by Liisi LaFontaine, Ibinabo Jack and Lily Frazer who frame the finale, inviting Effie back on stage with them for one final time.
7. When I First Saw You
Joe Aaron Reid has the difficult job of bringing the role of Curtis to life, making him a believable 'bad guy' whilst also allowing audiences to understand his motivation and will to succeed. His duet with Deena comes as she tells him that she wants to leave the group to pursue a film career, and he reminds her of their love and refuses to let her go. Reid's ability to broaden the role helps the piece remain believable and somewhat sympathetic, and his smooth vocals match with LaFontaine to create one of the show's most memorable numbers.
One of the show's most touching moments comes through CC. White's affirmation of family as he convinces Effie that the change in the group, putting Deena as lead singer, is for the better. Olivier Award-nominee Tyrone Huntley delivers a flawless vocal in this lyrical melody that's underscored by some impressive orchestrations making for a real highlight of the first act. Huntley is soulful in his delivery, glossing over some of the more cliched lyrics that relate the whole family to a 'giant tree growing free'. When the whole group join in with a pitch-perfect harmony it becomes a true highlight of the show, and the recording as a whole.
5. The Rap
Adam J Bernard won the Olivier Award for his performance as Jimmy and one of the best tracks from the recording is his rap where he launches into an improvised 'funk' number, breaking free from the constrains and frustrations of the music industry. Bernard's performance on stage is electric and this energy is captured on the recording, with this particular song bringing a new sound to the score as a whole. The stunning 14-piece band are showcased throughout this track with a powerful base line, impressive horn section and grooving trumpets making for a highly memorable and accomplished musical track.
4. I Am Changing
Amber Riley has many chances to shine throughout this production but one of the most exciting songs opens the second act and shows Effie's transition into making a showbiz comeback. Starting off modestly in a piano bar the number shifts into a full blown live performance, created onstage by a pin-spot from lighting designer Hugh Vanstone and an impressive split-second costume reveal by designer Gregg Barnes. Narratively the song narrates Effie's personal journey and provides an exciting musical moment for Riley to unleash her incredible voice once again.
3. One Night Only
One of the show's breakaway numbers is a song of two halves. Beginning as an intimate solo for Effie the song gets hijacked by Curtis who gives an up-tempo version to The Dreams which sees both versions compete in the billboard charts. One of Krieger's most powerful melodies it's not only one a song that challenges you not to sing along but also shows how the music industry has the ability to change a sound through different methods of production. On this recording the story of the song remains clear and the full cast deliver an exciting battle between the two shifts in tone.
2. It's All Over
Krieger's score is successful due to its mix of stand-alone songs and recitative that drive the story and keep music at the centre of the whole production. One of the best moments of the show comes towards the end of the first act which builds towards the climax of Effie getting fired from the group. The song "It's All Over" is used to build into the act break anthem and is necessary to build the required tension and prepare both cast and audience for the song that's about to be unleashed. After performing a section of this number on the 1982 Tony Awards it became as familiar to fans of the show as the song it leads into, with lines such as "Effie, we all got pain" crossing over into slang and popular vernacular. Nowhere else on the recording do the full lead cast get such a chance to shine in terms of their vocals and acting, and this track is a tight ensemble effort that demands multiple listens to understand the subtleties of character and musical motifs. As a group the entire cast are performing at the top of their game and dramatically this moment becomes a true highlight of the show.
1. And I'm Telling You (I'm Not Going)
Few songs from modern musicals have crossed over into the popular music charts, but this anthem that closes the first act is perhaps one of the most well-known songs from modern musical theatre. Amber Riley knocks this vocal out of the park, delivering every inflection, melisma and intent in exactly the right place to show her character's frustration and pain, climaxing with a mid-show standing ovation every night at the Savoy Theatre. On CD the vocal remains crisp and determined and the musical production peaks in all the right places to make this a highly memorable record of a career-defining, Olivier Award-winning performance.
The Dreamgirls Original London Cast Recording is on sale from Friday 12 May 2017
Dreamgirls tickets are on sale to 27 January 2018 at the Savoy Theatre.
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