Glee star Amber Riley will make her West End debut this year in the UK premiere of the award-winning musical Dreamgirls at London’s Savoy Theatre.
The American actress and singer best known for her role as Mercedes Jones in the Golden Globe Award winning television musical comedy, will play soul singer Effie White in the production which will open at the Savoy this November.
Amber 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 on the West End is now a dream realised, I just feel like this is going to be something special!”
Inspired by R&B music acts in 1960s America, Dreamgirls will transport audiences back 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 show business is as tough as it is fabulous.
Olivier and Tony-Award winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten!) will direct and choreograph Dreamgirls and says: “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!”
Producer Sonia Friedman says 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 for the West End season.
“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.”
As well as Glee Riley has appeared on TV in the NBC live performance of the musical, The Wiz. Her 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 to rave reviews in New York City Center’s Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade.
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.