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Review: 'Dreamgirls' delivers at the MET Theatre

Critic's Choice

April 02, 2013|By David C. Nichols
  • Tyra Dennis, left, Constance Jewell Lopez, Keith Arthur Bolden and Jennifer Colby Talton in "Dreamgirls."
Tyra Dennis, left, Constance Jewell Lopez, Keith Arthur Bolden and Jennifer… (Michael Lamont )

Reviewing the 1981 premiere of “Dreamgirls,” critic Frank Rich wrote, “When Broadway history is being made, you can feel it.” To paraphrase him, when Equity-waiver history is being made, it can feel you.

Case in point: the just-extended revival at the MET Theatre. Despite some quirks, in its sheer audience-pleasing regard this red-hot DOMA Theatre Company take on Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger’s Tony-winning landmark is an incandescent watershed for both troupe and Los Angeles.

Director Marco Gomez and his ace forces have inventively reconceived Michael Bennett’s celebrated original staging. The action places musical director Chris Raymond’s superb band alongside designer Amanda Lawson’s two-tiered set, which serves the property’s sprawling, R&B near-opera needs, aided by Johnny Ryman’s resourceful lighting and our proximity to a marvelous cast.

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As full-figured, big-voiced, ego-driven Effie, stellar Constance Jewell Lopez proves that not even the Jennifers -- Holliday and Hudson -- can own a role forever. She and Jennifer Colby Talton’s lovely Deena and Tyra Dennis’ mercurial Lorrell are rawer, less archetypal than usual, and that makes their trek the more believable.

Welton Thomas Pitchford represents imaginative casting as ambitious Curtis, here a straight-toned singing Iago. Frank Andrus Jr. is a dulcet find as idealistic C.C., nicely paired with Tiffany Williams’ fine-tuned Michelle. If Keith Arthur Bolden’s Jimmy “Thunder” Early isn’t entirely a natural at James Brown-esque pyrotechnics, try telling that to the house.

So goes the mega-talented roster, which attacks choreographer Rae Toledo’s sharp moves as though being paid by the step. Eyen's book remains slightly stilted, but my sole caveat is that, after a month’s run, Michael Mullen’s staggering costume parade and AJA Morris-Smiley’s wigs sorely require upkeep. With an achievement this remarkable every detail counts, and that's show biz.

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“Dreamgirls,” MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Avd., L.A. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends May 5. $20-$34.99. (323) 802-4990 or www.domatheatre.com. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

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