This was another case of walking into a show and not realizing the name before me but walking out in awe. I walked into the tour of Brooklyn knowing Melba Moore from the Purlie CD and Diana DeGarmo from American Idol. But I walked out thrilled to have seen them and in love with the talent of Cleavant Derricks.
Right away when the show began, the moment Cleavant Derricks rocked out in “Heart Behind These Hands,” I was in awe. People thought they came to see Diana DeGarmo and Melba Moore, but it was then they realized that they wanted to hear more from the Streetsinger. The CD does a great job of capturing his performance, but like it is for the best of Broadway performers, it cannot fully communicate the power of the live performance. He filled that theatre with his voice like a rock star, standing out even in perfectly harmonized group numbers.
I didn’t even know he was one of the original cast members in Dreamgirls until after the show. That just goes to prove, there are names and there are talents. Sometimes they go together. Sometimes they don’t. No matter what show, no matter what role, no matter what name, Cleavant Derricks proves that talent always, always rises above.
In addition to hearing him handle more rock scores (He’d be a great fit for The Civil War.), I would love to hear Derricks handle traditional theatre scores. How exciting it would be to witness him performing some of those great Rodgers and Hammerstein songs or even the music of some of the contemporary classics. I don’t know about you, but I smell a perfect talent for a solo album. That is, alongside more theatre roles.
Okay, this isn’t exactly Dreamgirls, but this was the best I could find. As Tracy Turnblad would say, “It’s afro-tastic!”
July 19, 2007