Motown’s beautiful talents dream bigPrint This
The sensational new stage production of DREAMGIRLS showcases powerful vocals, dynamic characters, and a spectacular musical score. Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, Dreamgirls tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960s singing girl group and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune.
The musical follows the Dreamettes, a trio composed of full-figured lead singer Effie White and best friends Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, on their topsy-turvy journeys to stardom. Relationships are challenged when the Dreamettes meet the influential Curtis Taylor, Jr. at an amateur talent competition in New York City. Curtis replaces temperamental Effie with slender Deena as lead singer, and then altogether ousts Effie by hiring Michelle Morris, renaming the trio The Dreams. Each character is presented with emotional challenges, and only time will tell if justice wins and the discouraged female performers regain independence and confidence.
Loosely related to the history of Motown icons The Supremes, Dreamgirls debuted on Broadway in 1981 at the Imperial Theater. The original production won five Drama Desk Awards, six Tony Awards, and two Grammy Awards—including Best Musical Show Album. Since its successful first run, there have been several revivals and tours of the musical, including international productions in South Africa and Malaysia. In 2009, Dreamgirls began a new tour at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, which seemed only appropriate since the musical’s characters launch their dreams of pursuing music in that very theater!
Perhaps the most famous reincarnation of Dreamgirls was the 2006 film adaptation starring Jennifer Hudson as Effie White, Beyoncé Knowles as Deena Jones, Eddie Murphy as James “Thunder” Early, and Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor, Jr. Effectively carrying over the musical’s themes of prejudice, greed, and chasing dreams, the film won two Academy Awards and six Black Reel Awards.
With music by Academy Award nominee Henry Krieger, and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award winner Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls features soulful, tear-provoking songs, including “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “One Night Only,” and “Listen.” The musical score is an innovative mix of blues, soul, funk, and pop, creating emotional ballads that can give even the toughest-skinned people goose bumps.
As the sparkles and glam of fame are punctured by affairs, heartache, and the monopolization of the music industry, audience members will find themselves cheering for the success of the talented Dreamettes.
“When Broadway history is being made, you can feel it,” wrote The New York Times. “What you feel is a seismic emotional jolt that sends the audience, as one, right out of its wits.”
Join us for a pre-show lecture hosted by Dr. Charles Sykes, executive director of the IU African American Arts Institute. These lectures will be held in Woodburn 100, Tuesday and Wednesday, April 23 and 24, at 6:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Dr. Sykes will be speaking to the history of Motown, how it is represented by the musical Dreamgirls, and addressing some of the larger relevant social issues.