DescriptionDREAMGIRLS is a show about a time in American musical history when rhythm and blues blended with other styles of popular music creating a new American sound. Act One is set in the fabulous sixties — a time when we were still screaming at Elvis and listening to the Beatles, but were dancing to the new beat of countless girl and boy groups like The Supremes, The Marvelettes, The Temptations and The Shirelles. DREAMGIRLS is not just about the singing and the dancing and the performing. The play is also about the behind-the-scenes reality of the entertainment industry — the business part of show business that made possible this cultural phenomenon. Act Two shows the creation and the arrival of disco — though the word is never used in the script. The subject matter of this play deals with a musical contribution to America of such importance that only now — decades later — are we beginning to understand.
Music samples provided courtesy of Decca Broadway
In 1962, at the world-famous Apollo Theatre in New York City, The Dreamettes arrive late for a talent contest that they hope will launch their R&B career. The trio, featuring the large and powerful lead singer Effie White backed up by slender Deena and sassy Lorrell, is accompanied by Effie’s brother C.C., who writes all their material. Smooth-talking businessman Curtis Taylor manipulates the contest, and The Dreamettes do not win the trophy. Instead, Curtis becomes the group’s manager, and he negotiates a job for the girls as backup singers for gospel star Jimmy Early.
Jimmy and The Dreamettes begin touring, and they soon record their first song, “Cadillac Car,” written by C.C. But the song is also recorded and popularized by a white group in a bland pop style. The girls, C.C., Curtis, and Jimmy’s agent Marty are all outraged. Curtis vows that the group will not be taken advantage of again (“Steppin’ to the Bad Side“).
Curtis books Jimmy and The Dreamettes as the first black act to appear in Miami Beach, and everyone is elated. Meanwhile, Curtis begins a relationship with Effie, primarily to manipulate the fortunes of the group, and Jimmy – despite being married – begins a relationship with Lorrell.
Seeking a wider audience, Curtis promotes the girls as their own act, The Dreams. But first, Curtis decides to replace lead singer Effie with Deena, whom he believes has the ‘look’ of success. Effie, embittered by this betrayal, resists singing backup, and C.C. and the group try unsuccessfully to comfort her (“Family”). Meanwhile Jimmy, enticed by Curtis’ aggressive management style, leaves his agent, Marty.
The Dreams, now led by Deena, find greater success (“Dreamgirls”). Privately, however, relationships within the group continue to deteriorate. Effie’s behavior and appearance further decline, and tempers flare (“It’s All Over”). Curtis is forced to replace Effie with Michelle, and Effie’s pain and frustration finally spill over (“And I’m Tellin’ You I’m Not Going”). The new trio, redubbed Deena Jones and The Dreams, headlines at the Las Vegas Hilton, and their future appears bright.
Five years later, Deena and The Dreams are at the pinnacle of their career. Effie, on the other hand, struggles to pull herself together. With Marty now acting as her agent, Effie auditions for a job in a Chicago club (“I Am Changing”).
Tensions continue to escalate with Deena and The Dreams; C.C. and Curtis have serious artistic differences over C.C.’s new song “One Night Only,” and Deena intends to pursue a movie career, much to Curtis’ dismay (“When I First Saw You”). With Jimmy’s career in a deep decline, Lorrell finally leaves him, bitterly noting that after seven years, Jimmy never did divorce his wife (“Ain’t No Party”).
Back in Chicago, C.C. apologizes to his sister for deserting her, and they reconcile (“I Miss You, Old Friend”). He offers her the song “One Night Only,” and Effie’s recording of the song moves toward the top of the charts. Curtis, incensed that Effie would challenge the Dreams’ disco version of “One Night Only,” uses his influence to undercut Effie’s version. But Marty uncovers Curtis’ illegal business practices, and Deena finally leaves Curtis. After years of bitterness, Effie and Deena reunite. The Dreams present a farewell concert (“Hard To Say Goodbye, My Love”) and just before the curtain closes, they invite Effie on stage for one final performance of their signature song, “Dreamgirls.”
Book and Lyrics by Music by
Tom Eyen Henry Krieger
Original Broadway Production Directed and Choreographed by
Orchestrations by Harold Wheeler
Produced on Broadway by
Michael Bennett, Robert Avian, Geffen Records and
The Shubert Organization
Such credits for all purposes shall be in a type size equal to that of any other credits except for those of the stars billed above the title. Credits for Messrs. Bennett, Eyen and Krieger and the Broadway producers shall be in a type, size and prominence at least 50 percent of the larger of that used for the title or stars of the play and that the Broadway producer credit will appear in final position on the billing page.
The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:
is presented by arrangement with
TAMS-WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC.
560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022
1 Reed I: Alto Saxophone, Piccolo & Flute
1 Reed II: Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Oboe & English Horn
1 Reed III: Baritone Saxophone, Flute & Bass Clarinet
2 Trumpet I & II (both double on Flugelhorn)
1 Trumpet III (doubles Flugelhorn)
1 Trombone I (Tenor Trombone)
1 Trombone II (Tenor Trombone with Bass attachment)
1 Bass (electric)
1 Synthesizer (“string” sounds only)
1 Piano: Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano (Fender Rhodes) & Synthesizer (Prophet)
1 Percussion: (Mallet instruments)
Timpani (2 Pedal Drums)
Cow Bell (for Conductor)
Triangle (2 Sizes)
Cymbals – Suspended
Shaker (2 Sizes)
Tambourine & Triangle
1 Drums: (Trap Set)
Tom Tom (2 Sizes)
Floor Tom Tom
Roll with “swell”
Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.
1 Piano Conductor’s Score (Four Volume Set)
1 Prompt Book for Director
20 Prompt Books for Cast
30 Chorus-Vocal Parts
(4 female; 4 male)
Effie Melody White — lead singer of the Dreamettes
Deena Jones — backup singer of the Dreamettes; later lead singer
Lorrell Robinson — backup singer of the Dreamettes
Michelle Morris — backup singer; replacement for Effie
Jimmy (James Thunder) Early — principal soul singer
C.C. (Clarence Conrad) White — composer and brother of Effie
Curtis Taylor, Jr. — Cadillac dealer and manager of the Dreams
Marty — theatrical agent for J.T. Early
Stepp Sisters — four girl singers; non-speaking
Charlene — backup singer for J.T. Early
Joann — backup singer for J.T. Early
M.C. — master of ceremonies, Apollo Theatre
Tiny Joe Dixon — winning talent contest singer; non-speaking
Little Albert & The Tru-Tones — male quintet; non-speaking
Band (The James Early Band) — six male singers; non-speaking
Wayne — record producer/director
Dave — solo tenor; non-speaking
Sweethearts — two girl backup singers; non-speaking
Frank — press agent
Jerry Norman — nightclub owner
Carl — nightclub pianist; non-speaking
Five Tuxedos — male quintet; non-speaking
Les Styles — girls’ backup quartet; non-speaking
Edna Burke — applause meter reader; non-speaking
Dwight — TV studio director
Stage Manager — TV studio
Brian — pit orchestra drummer; non-speaking
Mr. Morgan — Effie’s lawyer
Security Guard — backstage, Chicago
Chorus Men & Women
The original Broadway production had a cast of 32 performers, including chorus. Some doubling was employed in the minor parts.
DREAMGIRLS opened on Broadway on December 20, 1981 at the Imperial Theatre, where it played for 1521 performances. The original cast included Jennifer Holliday, Loretta Devine, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Ben Harney. In 1987, a Broadway revival starring Lillias White ran for 177 performances at the Ambassador Theatre.
6 Tony Awards for Book, Choreography, Lighting Design, Actor, Actress and Featured Actor
4 Drama Desk Awards for Set Design, Lighting Design, Actress and Featured Actor
The Theatre World Award (Jennifer Holliday)