• Mon. May 20th, 2024

Dreamgirls comes to New Theatre Oxford

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 27, 2022

Taking on the role of iconic character Effie White has been a humbling experience for Nicole Raquel Dennis, the star of the first UK tour of Dreamgirls.

The multi-award winning show comes to the New Theatre Oxford tonight for a five night run.

Direct from the West End the production features the classic songs And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, Listen, I Am Changing and One Night Only.

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Dreamgirls. Picture: Matt Crockett

The synopsis reads: Meet The Dreams – Effie, Lorrell and Deena – three talented young singers in the turbulent 1960s, a revolutionary time in American music history. Join the three friends as they embark upon a musical rollercoaster ride through a world of fame, fortune and the ruthless realities of show business, testing their friendships to the very limit.

Alongside Miss Dennis, Sharlene Hector performs the iconic role of Effie White at certain performances.

Dreamgirls. Picture: Matt Crockett

The show also stars Natalie Kassanga as Deena Jones, Paige Peddie as Lorrell Robinson, Dom Hartley-Harris as Curtis Taylor Jr., Brandon Lee Sears as Jimmy Early, Shem Omari James as C.C. White, Jo Servi as Marty and Brianna Ogunbawo as Michelle Morris.

Miss Dennis said to be part of such a culturally significant show is “so important”: “To be playing these characters that are just so strong and so powerful after this past year is like the most dreamy combination.

“For ourselves, as well as to uplift who we are as people to bring us back up into that place of feeling good about ourselves, our culture is incredible. Very, very humbled to be part of this show.”

For Miss Dennis, playing the role of Effie White is a full circle experience.

She took part in singing competition The Voice in 2019 and worked with superstar Jennifer Hudson – who made the role of Effie White famous in the Oscar-winning 2006 film version.

Dreamgirls. Picture: Matt Crockett

When anyone says anything about Jennifer Hudson it still feels very surreal, like ‘that happened’. She was my coach on The Voice, I think because she came from a background of reality TV as well, she had a lot of genuine wisdom. She was so patient and so understanding,” Miss Dennis said of her mentor.

That being said, she has been keen to bring her own “stamp” to the role and not lean to heavily on Hudson’s version of the character.

She noted: “With something so iconic like this, it's so easy to compare people who played this. But I think I have to remember I'm a completely different person to who they are, so I would never bring something that they’ve brought.”

“I can also recognise who I am as an actress as well and put my own stamp on it.

“When I did it in the West End, I was the youngest Effie. I think it's one of those things where over the course of the tour I can find new things that make it very personal and my own,” she added.

Dreamgirls plays at the New Theatre Oxford from September 27 to October 1.

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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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