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Girl power blows off the roof

The female cast lives up to the title |of the musical 'Dreamgirls'

Publication Date : 22-08-2012

 

Out with the doubt: Multiple-award-winning Broadway musical "Dreamgirls" is still relevant three decades after its premiere. It's a reminder that you need to sing well, not just look good, to become successful. And money doesn't always talk loudest.

The Thai-language revival, continuing this weekend, is food for the ears and the soul, even more delectable than candy for the eyes. It's about the tumbles as well as the triumphs in show business.

Considering the many cultural differences, translating Tom Eyen's script and lyrics couldn't have been easy, but Daraka Wongsiri - Thailand's most prolific playwright - has kept everything comprehensible with the help of music director Sutee Sangsareechon. Only a few words don't completely fit the notes, thus requiring extra effort from the audience.

Director Dultat Vasinachindakaew is staging a "Dreamgirls" that's both entertaining and faithful to the spirit of the American original. Having assisted veteran director Suwandee Jakravoravudh for many years, he makes a commendable breakthrough on his own here, and it looks as though we can expect their company Dreambox to become even more prolific.

The undeniable star of the show is Thanaporn "Parn" Waekprayoon, playing Effie White - lead singer of the fictional vocal trio the Dreamettes. The audience falls in love with her the moment she walks onstage. This is a very different Parn, the pop-rock superstar we've been watching for more than a decade.

Her singing prowess is clear in her unforgettable solos on tunes like "(And I'm Telling You) I'm Not Going" and "I'm Changing". Not known as an actress, she's such a natural, truly living this role, that I won't be surprised if she's offered roles in television and movies - and more onstage too.

Parn basically eclipses Pijika "Lookwa" Jittaputta as Deena Jones in the first act, but when Deena is chosen to front the trio when it's reborn as the Dreams, her performance soars accordingly.

Nattapat "Puifai" Wipatcorntragoon, though a less experienced singer than Parn and Lookwa, matches them at every note. Her portrayal of Lorell Robinson proves she's now another triple threat on the musical stage, excelling in acting, singing and dancing.

Kwankaew "Lookkaew" Kongnisai plays Michelle Morris, who replaces the sacked Effie, in a riveting all-around performance that's a long-overdue breakthrough for her. She's spent too long in the background ensemble of various shows, or at least in the back of the producer's mind.

With the girls' power blowing the roof off, the boys tend to be overshadowed. I also found Daraka's translation of their dialogue a little too polite.

As Curtis Taylor Jr, the trio's manager, Vorarit "Nott" Fuengarom assumes a voice and body posture that's much different from his previous stage and television efforts, and his singing has significantly improved since "Mae Nak". Yet he somewhat lacks the "pimp" quality that's required for this role.

Despite his astounding energy and voice quality, Chris LOVEiS, as the falling star James Early, leaves the audience wondering whether he's speaking Thai, English or French. With Thanasit "Ton AF8" Jaturaputch also quite weak in his attitude (though not his voice) in the role of CC, Effie's songsmith brother, stage veteran Saran Thongpan steals the limelight among the male cast as Marty, James' manager.

Unlike other theatre companies that have been known to gear production design to massive spectacle, Dreambox places more emphasis on script and acting. Though here, the use of LED panels fits in very well with the story's showbiz razzle-dazzle.

 

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