Play the Songs
- Move (You're Steppin' On My Heart)
- Fake Your Way to the Top
- Cadillac Car
- Steppin' to the Bad Side
- Press Conference
- And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
- Ain't No Party
- When I First Saw You
- I Am Changing
- I Meant You No Harm
- The Rap
- Firing of Jimmy
- I Miss You Old Friend
- One Night Only
- Hard to Say Goodbye, My Love
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.
*Music samples provided courtesy of Decca Broadway.
- Rehearsal Materials
- Cast List
- Brief History
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
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 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)
20 Prompt Books for Dialogue Parts
1 Prompt Book
33 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 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.
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)