IT'S not often a musical grabs your attention and doesn't let go on all fronts, yet the moment the first musical chords are heard that is what the much-awaited Dreamgirls does.

The strong narrative, superb singing and stunning choreography are all top-notch as you would expect for a show that was a Broadway and West End smash.

The packed-out Liverpool audience lapped up every minute. And they also love it when a character breaks the 'Fourth Wall.'

So what makes Dreamgirls - directed by Casey Nicholaw - so compelling?

It is a story that grips from the outset and its success is in the telling of that story.

The unforgettable, soaring vocals are certainly one factor.

There's also the consistently high standard of songs from the ballad to the soul, R and B and disco combinations of great lyrics and melodies.

One in particular is the confessional, mesmerising And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going which is a powerful high-point among many highlights.

Listen, I Am Changing and One Night Only are also oustanding.

Indeed it's a veritable greatest hits collection that has to be seen and heard.

Fans seem to know every word as the tale of showbiz dreams and empowerment turns into numerous nightmares.

The Dream girls are the ambitious Detroit trio of Effie, Lorrell and Deena – talented young singers in the turbulent 1960s, a time which proved to be a revolutionary and inspirational period in American music history.

We join these close friends as they set out on a musical rollercoaster journey through a world of hope, fame, fortune and the ruthless and cruel realities of cut-throat, back-stabbing managment.

The undercurrent of commercialism tests their friendships to the very limit as the lure of the charts destroys hearts.

There are some atmospheric sets and spectacularly illuminated recreatons of concert halls, TV studios and the big and small stages where the Dreamgirls ... dreamed.

Nicole Raquel Dennis as Effie - a finalist in The Voice - is applauded the moment she steps on stage. A faultless, emotionally-draining (for the audience as well) performance.

And there are stella portrayals from Natalie Kassanga as Deena Jones, Paige Peddie as Lorrell Robinson and Sharlene Hector as the 'alternative Effie.'

Brandon Lee Sears is Jimmy Early and is played with startling energy and humour. Brandon injects a mix of James Brown and Little Richard into his charismatic character.

This show had two standing ovations - one after each act. That says it all.

A moving, uplifting, dramatic, highly-entertaining and super-slick musical.

Globe verdict: Five Stars - Dazzling Dreamgirls

The show is at the Empire until December 31

Tickets from 0844 871 7615