Duke Ellington School of the Arts DreamgirlsBy Cappies • Dec 14th, 2010 • Category: Cappies
There’s no business like show business. In the 1960’s, this standard was truer than ever. But one story of love, secrets, betrayal and hope prevails among the rest. Duke Ellington School of the Arts shined brightly in their recent production of Dreamgirls.
With music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls follows the ambitious girl group, “The Dreamettes,” as they are discovered and quickly become household names. However, the three girls, Effie, Deena and Lorrell soon realize all the trials and tribulations that come with being a star.
From the moment Duke Ellington’s Dreamgirls began, it was clear that this production was the result of outstanding and meticulous work. High energy flooded the stage from the vivacious first number, “I’m Looking for Something, Baby.” As the show progressed and rigorous dance moves and vocally demanding pieces were executed flawlessly, every member of the ensemble was deserving of praise.
Anitra McKinney stole the show as Effie, the lead singer who is quickly replaced because she does not fit the “look” that their manager, Curtis Taylor Jr, wants the group to embody. Her emotional transitions were evident as she gained the crowd’s favor, gently singing, “What About Me?” Perhaps the finest example of McKinney’s booming vocals and convincing acting was the moving Act I Finale, “(And I’m Telling You) I’m Not Going.” Playing opposite McKinney, Jumohny Walker as Deena and Ayanna Bakari as Lorrell also rose to the occasion in portraying their mature and challenging roles.
Even a show as memorable as Dreamgirls has a few weak areas. In Duke Ellington’s production, the major struggle was making the script accessible to audience. For those who did not know the storyline of Dreamgirls, this production did not provide assistance. With mediocre articulation and little emotional connection to the audience, Ellington’s production was not able to reach its full potential. However, the level they did reach is still one that is commendable and a showcase of innate talents.
In the past, famous personas such as Jennifer Holiday and Beyonce have assumed the roles of the Dreamgirls. With this in mind, Duke Ellington School of The Arts had some big shoes to fill. Their production of Dreamgirls did so triumphantly, leaving the audience in awe.
by Emily Woods of West Potomac
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