Saturday, March 15, 2003

The Diva Drug

Caught the opening performance of Dreamgirls last night with Dean and Gig at Onstage Greenbelt, one of the premiere concert venues in the metropolis.

I was told that the musical was a Diana Ross semi-autobiography, relating to her experience while still in the Supremes. In Dreamgirls, Ross is represented by Effie White (played by Bituin Escalante), and the Supremes are, well, the Dreamgirls.

Every single cast member had the talent. Bituin and Tex OrdoƱez were certainly standouts, though Jett Pangan looked like he was having a tough time with the highest-of-high notes. This musical seems to have been written for women actors, as the songs for men lacked a lot of the vocal acrobatics dished out by the diva-esque ditties.

I went in not knowing spit about the Tony award-winning musical. It was in the middle of the first act where I realized "Oh! They're supposed to be black!" The accents were more Southern than black, IMHO. But Bituin's star really shone in this department. She was black, baby!

The overall energy was low in the first act but thankfully rose at the beginning of the second act. It then dipped again towards the end, making the grand finale so-so. Some of the cast members also needed work in articulating the non-sung lines. For these reasons, a lot of the visual and verbal punchlines didn't get the appropriate audience response.

Costume design gets top points. And the revolving stage was a good set-change device.

But the biggest peeve I had with the show was in the sound department. If I was really mean, I'd say I was attending a dress-tech. I had high expectations here, as this is supposed to be Onstage.

However, as all theatrical productions go, it only gets better as the run continues. Glitches get fixed and performances improve. So do catch Dreamgirls when you can. If you're itching for some diva-drug high, with more high notes and belting prowess than a Mariah Carey concert, you'll get it here.

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