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November 23, 2009

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Aaron Grunfeld

I'm curious how you adjust on Critic-o-Meter for this sort of critical reaction. When a show shouldn't work but does, it confounds my faculties, even on the level of mere description.

In the case of Dreamgirls, part of it is the great music & its singer-friendly quality. It's like Shakespeare: even a mediocre production is great, cuz of the script.

In terms of the site, the reaction is also due to the audience's receptivity to this show about African-American show biz. Reviews often fail to note how the audience plays a part in how enjoyable the evening is.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

I wanted to get my caveats out of the way first to get on with what I liked about the production. Yes to me it works because Dreamgirls itself is a great show -- I'll stand by that. I didn't like the movie because it felt bloated, too explainy. At the Apollo, things move along fast, as they should. The over-the-topness also works a lot better on stage than on film.

I also think the music's not watered down, especially if you compare it to mainstream Motown, which purists felt was watered-down R&B to begin with -- it always coveted the pop charts. In Dreamgirls you have dead-on period arrangements grafted on show tunes. It's a good hybrid.

It's also hard to underestimate how exciting it is to see the show at the Apollo. It's true what they say about location, location, location.

Steve On Broadway (SOB)

Isaac, If you've never seen Dreamgirls on stage, I posit that you haven't seen the musical the way it should be viewed. The film watered down the story and shifted the focus away from Effie. This is ostensibly her story, not Beyonce's, er, Deana Jones'.

I do believe you raise valid points on the critics' centering many of their thoughts on "this is a touring production so it will suffice." That is flawed thinking pure and simple and says to flyover country that they're somehow not worthy of something better.

isaac

Steve,

My problem with the show is that it on some level doesn't work on it's own. it works as a "riff" on the Motown Story. This is more exaggerated by the costume and production design of the movie, but it's still a problem in the material.But the problem is the ways it departs from the Motown story are totally slanderous to Barry Gordy, who did more for black artists than anyone involved in Dreamgirls will ever do. It also focuses one of Motown's least musically interesting major acts, and makes up a bunch of shit about how Diana Ross came to be lead singer of the Supremes.

The musical also commits the very same act that propels its action: It's white artists watering down black music for money.

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