Amber Riley will make her West End debut this year in the UK premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical Dreamgirls. The American actress and singer, best known for her role as Mercedes Jones in the television musical comedy Glee, will play soulful singer Effie White in the production which will open at the Savoy Theatre with performances from November 2016. Tickets will go on sale this spring with further dates, casting and creative team to be announced soon.
Amber Riley said: “I am so honoured and excited to not only be playing such an iconic role, but also to be working with Sonia Friedman and Casey Nicholaw. Working in the West End is now a dream realised, I just feel like this is going to be something special!”
Olivier and Tony Award-winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten!) will direct and choreograph Dreamgirls and added: “I am beyond thrilled to be directing and choreographing Dreamgirls in the West End. It was one of the first shows I saw when I moved to New York in 1982 and has been my favourite show ever since. We’ve begun to assemble a terrific cast of actors here in the UK. We also have a terrific design team lined up – it’s going to be a smart and sexy production. I’m so excited about working with Amber. I loved her on Glee and when her name came up for this, I thought: ‘Wow, I think she could be incredible’ – and then when she came in to audition for us, she blew us away!”
Presented in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Book of Mormon and Funny Girl), Sonia Friedman said of Dreamgirls: “This great, now classic American musical is coming to London at long last, and I couldn’t be more excited to confirm that Amber Riley will be joining the cast of Dreamgirls for the West End season. This new production will begin performances later this year, directed by the brilliant, multi-award-winning Broadway director Casey Nicholaw. Having met Amber and having had the privilege of hearing her sing two of the iconic songs from Dreamgirls – ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ and ‘I Am Changing’ – I was left with goosebumps, tingles and tears. I was completely knocked out by this talented performer. London is very lucky to be the first to see her Effie.”
Inspired by R&B music acts in 1960s America, Dreamgirls transports you to a revolutionary time in American music history. The show charts the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio, from Chicago, Illinois called ‘The Dreams’, as they learn the hard lesson that showbusiness is as tough as it is fabulous and features the classic songs ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’ and ‘One Night Only’.
American actress and singer Amber Riley is best known for her role as Mercedes Jones on the Golden Globe Award-winning musical comedy Glee. Additional television appearances include playing Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North in the NBC live performance of the musical The Wiz and competing in Dancing With the Stars, which she won in 2013. Riley’s numerous theatre credits include Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Into the Woods and Mystery on the Docks with the Los Angeles Opera. In November 2012, she made her New York stage debut in New York City Center’s Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade.
Olivier and Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw’s West End credits include co-director of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Disney’s Aladdin which opens in London this summer and The Drowsy Chaperone. On Broadway, credits include The Book of Mormon, Disney’s Aladdin, Something Rotten!, Elf: The Musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, Monty Python’s Spamalot. Casey’s additional New York credits include the highly acclaimed City Center Encores! productions of Anyone Can Whistle, Follies, Bye Bye Birdie and Can-Can, plus directing and choreographing the world premieres of Minsky’s at Center Theater Group in Los Angeles and Robin and the 7 Hoods at the Old Globe, San Diego. In 2016, Casey is set to direct and choreograph Tuck Everlasting on Broadway.
With book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger, the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, opened in 1981 and subsequently won six Tony Awards. The original cast recording won two Grammy awards for Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance for Jennifer Holliday’s ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’. In 2006 it was adapted into an Oscar-winning motion picture starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.
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