A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.
From the very beginning of this lively production, evidence of hard work and raw talent revealed itself in every character that played a role in the story of a group of women who fought for and against each other to maintain their lives and livelihood through the pursuit of a dream. Director Joel Ferrell’s ideas had to be truly aligned with the passion of Motown as the delivery of music and mayhem were at its best. Motown Artists who had their sights set on a life of artistic freedom had to endure a myriad of obstacles which included their own family members and loved ones who had their own agendas. The original talented trio included Deena Jones (Alexis Sims), Marisha Wallace (Effie White) and Kristen Bond (Lorrell) then later adding Traci Elaine Lee (Michelle Morris). The support system of strong and opinionated males who guided their careers included Curtis Taylor Jr. (Derrick Davis), James “Thunder” Early (Erick Lajuan Summers) and Marty Madison (Hassan El-Amin).
Fresh from Chicago, The Dreamettes have a lot to learn about Motown and the true heart of show business. In the midst of experiencing many firsts, the ladies learn hard lessons about who to trust and who actually had their best interests at heart. Effie, who has a big voice and a big attitude to go along with it, has to eventually face the fact that the world is changing and her voice isn’t enough to save it. Meanwhile, Deena is beautiful, but wants to be more than just a pretty face. While Lorrell seems to be the mediator through most of their battles, she has issues of her own when she finally realizes her married boyfriend will never be ready to give up the double life he is leading. Through name changes, music adjustments and several costume/wig changes, the group finally reaches a plateau of acceptance where they realize that each of them must conquer their own fears in order to truly grow in the music industry and in their own personal lives.
Hats off to Director Joel Ferrell for putting together an outstanding cast whose skills propelled this Award-Winning Musical to yet another level of extreme entertainment. Every detail, including choreography, scene design and production, was professionally executed to support a wealth of amazing talent from seasoned actors who fed off of one another for energy and excitement. While the Wyly theatre may have not been the best venue (sizewise) for this type of production, it all came together with the help of a few audience members who didn’t mind rubbing elbows or knees with the artists while they jumped, danced and showcased their talent throughout the musical numbers that kept the stage and aisles busy at all times. I can’t say enough about Marisha Wallace’s (Efffie) amazing rendition of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” which literally brought the house down, as well as “I Am Changing” and the entire ensemble’s “One Night Only.” An additional caveat was the before and after dialogue with cast members to enhance your play-going experience. This was definitely a plus for patrons who wanted to go deeper into discussion about the production.
For a summer’s night of great entertainment, this is a must-see for an amazing experience at Dallas Theater Center that will make you truly appreciate the presence of worthwhile theatrical productions in our community, with a major local cast that is talented beyond measure. Currently playing at the Wyly Theater until July 24th. Don’t sleep on it!
Now performing at the Wyly Theatre in Dallas June 10 – July 24