DREAMGIRLS 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.

-Michael Bennett

*Music samples provided courtesy of Decca Broadway.

Dreamgirls Quote Request & Licensing

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Cast List
  • Brief History
  • Upcoming
  • Act One opens at the world-famous Apollo Theatre in New York City, where ‘The Dreamettes’ arrive late for a talent contest that they hope will launch their career as rhythm and blues singers. ‘The Dreamettes’ include Effie (the overweight lead singer), Deena (the attractive back-up singer) and Lorrell (the second back-up singer). They are accompanied by C.C., Effie’s brother, who writes all their material. Smooth-talking Curtis Taylor manipulates the contest, and ‘The Dreamettes’ do not win the trophy. Instead, Curtis becomes their manager, and he negotiates a job for the girls as back-up singers for a star, James (Thunder) “Jimmy” Early.
    The three girls begin touring with Jimmy, and ‘Jimmy and The Dreamettes’ record their first song, Cadillac Car, written by C.C. They find, however, that C.C.’s song has also been recorded and made popular by a white group in a bland, pop style. The girls, C.C., Curtis and Jimmy’s agent Marty are outraged. In the song Steppin’ to the Bad Side, Curtis vows that the group will not be taken advantage of again.
    Curtis responds by booking ‘Jimmy and The Dreamettes’ as the first black act to appear in Miami Beach. Everyone is elated. Meanwhile, Curtis has developed a relationship with Effie, primarily to manipulate the fortunes of the group; and Jimmy, despite being married, has developed a relationship with Lorrell. Success for Jimmy and the three girls continues.
    At this point Curtis feels the girls are popular enough to go out on their own with a more sophisticated name:‘The Dreams’, but first he decides to remove Effie as the lead singer and replace her with Deena. Although Effie has the best voice of the three girls, Curtis believes Deena has the ‘look’ of success. Effie is destroyed, feeling betrayed by Curtis and C.C., and has to swallow her pride to sing back-up . C.C. and the group try unsuccessfully to comfort her in the song Family. Jimmy is enticed by Curtis’ aggressive management style and leaves his agent, Marty.
    Led by Deena ‘The Dreams’ are successful and they perform their signature number Dreamgirls. Privately, however, relationships among members of the group continue to deteriorate. Effie’s behavior and appearance continue to decline. Curtis is forced to replace Effie with Michelle, and tells her in the song It’s All Over. Effie’s pain and frustration are then expressed in the song (And I’m Tellin’ You) I’m Not Goin’. The group is renamed ‘Deena Jones and The Dreams.’ They headline at the Las Vegas Hilton and their future is bright.
    Act two opens five years later with ‘Deena and The Dreams’ at the pinnacle of their career. Effie, on the other hand, is trying to overcome her disappointments and pull herself together in Chicago with Marty as her agent. She attempts to land a job in a local club and sings I’m Changing. However, all is not well with ‘Deena and The Dreams.’ C.C. and Curtis are having serious artistic differences over C.C.’s new song One Night Only, and, to Curtis’ dismay, Deena wants to follow her own dream and begin a movie career. Curtis sings to her in You Are My Dream. With Jimmy’s career in serious decline, Lorrell leaves him, because after seven years Jimmy never divorced his wife.
    Back in Chicago C.C. apologizes to his sister for deserting her, and they reconcile. He offers her One Night Only, since he did not like Curtis’ disco interpretation of the song for Deena. Effie’s version of One Night Only moves toward the top of the charts. Curtis is incensed and uses his influence to undercut Effie’s version. Marty uncovers Curtis’ illegal business practices. Deena leaves Curtis, and Effie and Deena reunite after years of bitterness. ‘The Dreams’ perform their farewell concert and , as the curtain closes, they invite Effie on stage for one final performance of Dreamgirls.

  • Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyer
    Music by Henry Krieger
    Original Broadway Production Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett
    Produced on Broadway by Michael Bennett, Robert Avian, Geffen Records and The Shubert Organization

  • Full Orchestration

    1 Reed I: Alto Saxophone, Piccolo & Flute
    1 Reed II: Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Oboe & English Horn
    1 Reed III: Baritone Saxophone, Flute & Bass Clarinet

    1 Trumpets I & II (both double on Flugelhorn)
    1 Trumpets III (doubles Flugelhorn)
    1 Trombone I (Tenor Trombone)
    1 Trombone II (Tenor Trombone with Bass attachment)

    1 Bass (electric)

    1 Guitar

    1 Synthesizer (“string” sounds only)
    1 Piano: Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano (Fender Rhodes) & Synthesizer (Prophet)
    1 Percussion: (Mallet instruments)

    Timpani (2 Pedal Drums)
    Bongo Drums
    Conga Drum(s)
    Cow Bell (for Conductor)
    Triangle (2 Sizes)
    Bell Tree
    Cymbals – Suspended
    Shaker (2 Sizes)
    “Cute Toys”:
    Temple Block
    Wood Block
    Tambourine & Triangle

    1 Drums: (Trap Set)

    Bass Drum
    Snare Drum
    Tom Tom (2 Sizes)
    Floor Tom Tom
    Bongo Drums
    Cymbals: Hi-Hat
    “suspended” (several)
    Roll with “swell”

    Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.

  • 1       Piano Conductor’s Score (Four Volume Set)
    20     Prompt Books for Dialogue Parts
    1       Prompt Book
    33     Chorus-Vocal Parts

  • Principals

    (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
    Party Guests
    Film Executives

    The original Broadway production had a cast of 32 performers, including chorus. Some doubling was employed in the minor parts.

  • DREAMGIRLS played for 1521 performances on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre starring Ben Harney, Jennifer Holliday, Loretta Devine and Sheryl Lee Ralph. It was revived on Broadway in 1987 for 177 performances at the Ambassador Theatre.

    Awards (1982)

    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)

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

    Search for performances near you
    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    John F. Kennedy High School RICHMOND, CA 04/03/2015 04/04/2015
    Theatre Alliance of Winston-Salem WINSTON SALEM, NC 04/03/2015 04/19/2015
    Norfolk State University NORFOLK, VA 04/09/2015 04/12/2015
    Claflin University ORANGEBURG, SC 04/10/2015 04/12/2015
    Harding Fine Arts Academy OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 04/17/2015 04/18/2015
    Skyline Theatre Company FAIR LAWN, NJ 04/24/2015 05/03/2015
    Hendersonville Little Theatre SALUDA, NC 04/24/2015 05/10/2015
    Grant High School VALLEY GLEN, CA 05/01/2015 05/02/2015
    Mount Auburn International Academy CINCINNATI, OH 05/02/2015 05/02/2015
    Meridian Little Theater MERIDIAN, MS 05/06/2015 05/13/2015
    Sheldon College SHELDON 05/06/2015 05/09/2015
    School of the Future NEW YORK, NY 05/07/2015 05/09/2015
    Lavarious & Co. Studios ORLANDO, FL 05/09/2015 05/09/2015
    Hillcrest High School JAMAICA, NY 05/12/2015 05/14/2015
    The American Musical & Dramatic Academy LOS ANGELES, CA 05/20/2015 05/24/2015
    StageArt MITCHAM 05/25/2015 06/14/2015
    High Street Arts Center MOORPARK, CA 05/29/2015 06/28/2015
    Entertainment Live Events LLC BEVERLY, MA 06/02/2015 06/14/2015
    Actor's Charitable Theatre TUSCALOOSA, AL 06/05/2015 06/08/2015
    Theatre Raleigh RALEIGH, NC 07/08/2015 07/26/2015
    BBL Fine Arts Academy CHAMPAIGN, IL 07/25/2015 07/26/2015
    Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma Inc. OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 08/03/2015 08/08/2015
    Auckland Girl's Grammer School AUCKLAND 08/18/2015 08/21/2015
    Milwaukee Repertory Theater MILWAUKEE, WI 09/22/2015 11/01/2015
    Stage 1 Theatre NEWARK, CA 09/26/2015 10/11/2015
    Porchlight Music Theatre CHICAGO, IL 04/08/2016 05/22/2016
    Stagecrafters ROYAL OAK, MI 06/03/2016 06/26/2016
    Virginia Repertory Theatre RICHMOND, VA 06/23/2016 08/07/2016
    Manukau Performing Arts PAPATOETOE 10/08/2016 10/22/2016