Dreamgirls with Marisha Wallace
4 January 2016
How many actors does it take to play Effie White in the West End production of Dreamgirls? At last count I think there are 5! It’s no wonder, this is a BIG sing by anyone’s measure and doesn’t allow for any half-baked attempts along the way. So with the news on Monday that Amber Riley was indisposed, I thought it was an ideal opportunity to take a look at some of the other Effie’s currently performing in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre and was more than suprised by what I found.
At Tuesday night’s performance, the role of Effie White was performed by Marsiha Wallace. It was an incredible performance and certainly had the audience on their feet mid “And I am Telling You”, as well as at the end of Act one and the end of Act Two. There’s is little doubt in my mind that this diva truly inhabits the role, wringing every ounce of emotion out of every on stage moment provided to her. In I Am Changing, she provides a beautifully pure vocal delivery to Tom Eyen’s powerful lyrics that made the song resonate all the more. Marisha delivers vocal acrobatics aplenty and with ease, and really delves into Effie’s inner emotional being to show her torture at being sidelined. It’s a complex performance which I am hoping to see again.
The show itself has settled since its monumental opening night, but is still fresh and as slick as it was then. The male ensemble of this show are really something to see, especially in numbers like Steppin’ To The Bad Side, and One Night Only, this is high-octane Broadway choreography at its very best delivered with flair.
One performance that has really blossomed is that if Joe Aaron Reid as Curtis Taylor Jr. Aaron Reid has really started to discover his inner Svengali and is really inhabiting this character with moments that border on scary. With total control, swift dismissal and ultimate disdain, he manipulates his way through this story. His scenes with Effie and Deena are developing, and making Curtis a real dramatic force that makes the journey undertaken by the girls, Jimmy and C C all the more staggering.
I’m hoping to report back on the other Effie’s in due course, but rest assured Miss Marisha Wallace will not leave you wanting. She is incandescent throughout this production. Whilst most productions of Dreamgirls would be lucky to have one brilliant Effie White, we have two!