|Chaz Lamar Shepherd (left) and Chester Gregory in “Dreamgirls.’’ (Joan Marcus)|
On our minds and on our playlists
Given the title, it’s no surprise that the men who appear in the musical “Dreamgirls’’ never quite get the spotlight they deserve. In the top-notch touring production currently dazzling audiences at the Colonial Theatre through Sunday, the women are indeed superb in the big show-stopping numbers like “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.’’ But the male cast members - from the fleet-footed ensemble to featured players Chester Gregory and Chaz Lamar Shepherd - definitely deserve kudos. Gregory in particular, in the flashy role of the Jackie Wilson-esque R&B star James “Thunder’’ Early, is effortlessly funky. Gregory is a true triple threat, impressing with the loose-limbed elegance of his dancing, the pathos and humor of his acting, and an impressive vocal range that shifts from low growls to Prince-ly falsetto shrieks with ease. Unsurprisingly, the native of Gary, Ind., who previously appeared on Broadway in “Hairspray,’’ is also a recording artist. His album “In Search of High Love’’ further reveals his gifts as a performer since its varied, contemporary sounds - think Usher with a more neo-soul bent - are significantly different from what he does in the show. (The album isn’t perfect, but we’re loving the effective deployment of a sample of the smooth and smoky Kenny Loggins/Michael McDonald yacht-rock classic “This Is It’’ on a song called “Say It’s Over.’’) Gregory is a nice reminder that true cross-format entertainers - ones who excel on screen, stage, and in the studio - still exist.