Wednesday August 23rd 2017


Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire is known for magical staging of a large Broadway production on its small arena stage and the glorious casting of just the right actors to bring their shows to life. “Dreamgirls”, the big Broadway musical which then became an award winning film is an example of the perfection audiences are treated to in this suburban resort location. This musical with a book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger follows the rags to riches story of a mythical group of singers ( one is very reminded of Diana Ross and The Supremes) who go from nothing to fame during the early 1960’s. Three young hopeful singers land in New York for a talent contest which they lose, but because of a young, hungry and energetic would be manager, are hired to do back-up for a rising star and then become stars on their own. But the story is not all roses and chocolates as this agent, Curtis Taylor Junior( deftly handled bu Byron Glenn Willis) makes changes in the group, The Dreamettes, that will change their fate as well as the sound that music would see prosper during the late 60’s. While this starts in Chicago and heads to New York and ports beyond- this is the sound of Motown as R & B becomes something that appeals to all races and the Black music is accepted ( and loved) by the White population.

Marriott is known for finding solid talent for its shows, from ensemble to leads and in this production they have done it again. Directed and choreographed by Marc Robin ( anyone who has seen his work knows that is his name is involved, it is a show worth seeing). His eye is magical in making even the smallest of  movements become important to the story and he certainly has the Motown movements down to a “T”. The girls are played with just the right touch by Deena Jones( the lovely Britney Coleman),Lorell (the delightful Rashida Scott) and Effie ( Raena White, who will get into your heart and soul with her acting and vocal range- what an amazing talent). NOTE: this is a role that uses great energy and in order to allow Ms White to perform to her fullest, another actress performs the role on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon shows. Knowing the artistic folk at Marriott, I can rest assured that those seeing matinees will get their money’s worth as well. These ladies are vibrant with strong and powerful voices. Add to their talent the marvelous costumes ( Nancy Missimi has outdone herself on this one) and the fantastic wigs, along with the great lighting(Jesse Klug) on a unique set by Thomas M.Ryan and sound design by Robert E. Gilmartin along with props by Sally Weiss and you can see why this is a solid 2 1/2 hours of utter enjoyment. This is a do not miss.

There are so many wonderful moments it is difficult to tell you which is of greater import, but I will have to say that the closing number of the first act, Effie’s “(And I’m Telling You) I’m Not Going” is one hell of a show stopper. The audience applauded for almost three minutes after the lights dimmed and I think if Ms White had stayed on stage under lights, she would have been given a standing ovation, right then and there. This was a magical moment for the audience and I am sure Ms White and the other ensemble members felt the chills that we did. I was very impressed by the performance of Eric Lajuan Summers as James “Thunder” Early- he is a treat to watch on stage and Travis Turner brings just the right touch to C.C. White (Effie’s brother, and composer of her music). Marty was handled with a smooth performance by Trinity P. Murdock ( a familiar face from Black Ensemble Theatre who debuts at Marriott- welcome to suburbia!).

If you enjoy the sounds of the 60’s, in particular, the Motown sound, you will truly enjoy this production. If you love good musical theater filled with fine singing and acting, this is one for you. Unlike many Marriott shows, in particular those with Robin at the helm, this is not a major dance show, but rather a musical about spirit and song as well as desire, so dance is not as important as many other shows. There is plenty of movement though and what you will enjoy even more is the story telling, the music and the vocal ranges that are being set before you. The musical direction by Doug Peck is of the highest standards and the eight piece orchestra under the direction of Patti Garwood (keyboard) fills the theater with pure Motown sound. The ensemble of players is extraordinary with some very strong voices as well and in many cases, these are the understudies for the key roles, so you know they have talent!

To judge for yourself, you might just want to take the journey to Lincolnshire to see “Dreamgirls” which will continue through October 28th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays t 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays At 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $41- $49 ( a terrific value for theater of this quality- I see a few Jeff nominations on this one) and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 847-634-0299 or online at

Dinner theater packages are also available for as low as $55 per person with some great dining experiences. Seniors and students get $5 off on matinees and Sundays.

Marriott Theatre of Lincolnshire is located in Lincolnshire at Ten Marriott Drive ( just south of Route 22 and east of Route 21 with loads of FREE Parking

To learn more visit, go to review round-up and click “Dreamgirls”

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