Tom Eyen and Henry Kreiger’s show Dreamgirls has taken 35 years to get to the Savoy Theatre in the West End. The original Broadway production was directed and choreographed by the legendary Michael Bennett – still credited here – and maybe there was a feeling amongst some theatre aficionados that that production could not be bettered. Interest in the show has continued, however, with the release of the Golden Globe winning feature film ten years ago, starring Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce. The London production has Aladdin and The Book of Mormon’s Casey Nicholaw at the helm, in a high octane, high decibel evening which doesn’t let up from the start.

Diminutive Glee star Amber Riley is perfect casting as Effie White – what she lacks in height she makes up for in vocal power and her presence is no doubt a great box office boost with the show’s fan base. Riley even gets a mid-show standing ovation for ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ – with such powerful vocals, she must surely be on vocal rest for the whole of the following day.

Dreamgirls is a snapshot of a revolutionary time in American music history – we follow ‘The Dreams’ – an all-black female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois – on their journey to fame. It’s no wonder that this show appeals to a generation raised on talent shows such as X Factor, The Voice and BGT.

Along the way, there are plenty of lows as well as highs. Riley’s Effie is side-lined to allow slimmer backing singer Deena Jones (Liisi Lafontaine) to take the spotlight, while third member Lorrell (Asmeret Ghebremichael) struggles to maintain her relationship. In this tale of backing singers who become headliners, there are glimpses too of the human cost backstage, with family, ambition and betrayal all playing a part. Villainous manager Curtis Taylor Jr (Joe Aaran Reid) ‘buys’ chart success for Deena to ensure that Effie’s solo career fails, and the storyline brushes on drugs too.

However, it’s rather a case of brashness at the expense of subtlety here. Whereas the film gives more context to character development and to the ‘story’ around the songs, the stage show moves these sections along quite swiftly to the next big number.

Gregg Barnes has designed a glittering array of costumes as we travel from the early 1960s through to the 1970s and there are a couple of good supporting performances from Tyrone Huntley as Effie’s brother C. C. White and former EastEnders doctor Nicholas Bailey as Marty.

The audience cheer the riffs and big notes on such iconic numbers as ‘I Am Changing’, ‘One Night Only’ and the title number in an exhilarating production, little caring for any flaws. And if Dreamgirls doesn’t raise the hairs on the back of your neck, the Savoy sound system on full pelt will blast them off!