Shows D

DREAMGIRLS Music by Henry Krieger; Book and Lyrics by Tom Even Imperial Theatre, Broadway - 20 December, 1981 (1522 perfs) SYNOPSIS Dreamgirls is the story of three black singers - Deena, Lorrell, and Effie who began as a group called the Dreamettes. They start as three talented, close friends and gradually sharpen their act and rename themselves "The Dreams". Little do they know of the hard, competitive world of show business. They enter a talent show held in New York's Apollo Theatre. Disappointed in their failure to win the contest, they attract the attention of a sly tongued talent agent named Curtis Taylor, Jr. Curtis' connections get the girls hired as a backup act to James Thunder Early, a rising pop singing star. They go on tour and are widely acclaimed. At first Curtis falls in love with Effie, the full-figured lead singer who seems to spark the act. Later, in an attempt to make the act more sultry, he moves Deena into Effie's lead spot. But when Curtis' love interest also switches to Deena, Effie erupts in a rage, prompted more by hurt than the loss of her singing slot, and announces that she is not going along anymore. Michelle replaces Effie, and the Dreams go on to achieve international stardom and a string of chart-topping hits. But life on top is rocky. Lorrell has long since taken up with James Early, but he is married and refuses to make the break from his wife. His nightclub act has also been slipping and his stardom fading. Deena wants to leave the group to try the movies. Just as the Dreams are falling apart Effie's star is rising as a solo. Curtis tries to undermine her revitalised career by having the Dreams record her current hit song. But Effie outmanoeuvres him for both a personal and a professional triumph. It is announced that the Dreams will disband. However, Effie joins them for the farewell performance . . . before the four Dreamgirls go their separate ways. STORY Act I: 1960s In 1962, The Dreamettes, a hopeful girl group from Chicago, enter the famous Amateur Night talent competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. The group is composed of full-figured lead singer Effie White and best friends, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson. For the contest, the Dreamettes sing "Move", a song written by Effie's brother, C.C., who accompanies them to the talent show. Unfortunately, they lose the talent show, but backstage, the girls and C.C. meet Curtis Taylor, Jr., a used-car salesman who becomes the Dreamettes' manager. Curtis convinces James "Thunder" Early, a popular R&B star, and his manager, Marty, to hire The Dreamettes as backup singers. Though Jimmy Early and the Dreamettes' first performance together is successful, Jimmy is desperate for new material. Curtis convinces Jimmy and Marty that they should venture beyond traditional rhythm and blues and soul audiences and aim for the pop market. C.C. composes "Cadillac Car" for Jimmy and the Dreamettes, who tour and record the single upon their return. "Cadillac Car" makes its way up the pop charts, but a cover version by white pop singers, Dave and the Sweethearts, steals the original recording's thunder. Angered by "Cadillac Car's" cover-version, Curtis, C.C., and Jimmy's producer, Wayne, resort to payola, bribing disc jockeys across the nation to play Jimmy Early and the Dreamettes' next single, "Steppin' to the Bad Side". As a result, the record becomes a major pop hit. Conflict arises between Marty and Curtis when Curtis moves in on Marty's turf: Jimmy Early. Things become more complicated when Effie begins dating Curtis, and Jimmy, a married man, begins an affair with Lorrell. Curtis replaces him, strongly determined to make his black singers household names. Curtis attempts to