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

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Cast List
  • Brief History
  • Upcoming
  • Act One opens in 1962 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 R&B career. The Dreamettes, featuring the large and powerful lead singer Effie White backed up by slender Deena and sassy Lorrell, are 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 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. In the songSteppin’ to the Bad Side,” Curtis vows that the group will not be taken advantage of again.

    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 from Curtis and C.C., 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.

    Now led by Deena, The Dreams find greater success, 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, 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”). Without Effie, the group is redubbed Deena Jones and The Dreams. The group headlines at the Las Vegas Hilton, and their future appears bright.

    Act two opens five years later, with Deena and The Dreams at the pinnacle of their career. Effie, on the other hand, struggles to pull herself together. With Marty now acting as her agent, Effie sings “I Am Changing” to land a job in a Chicago club.

    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
    Michael Bennett
    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
    560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022

  • 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

    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 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)
    1       Prompt Book for Director
    20     Prompt Books for Cast
    30     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 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.

    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.

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    Theatre Under the Stars HOUSTON, TX 04/04/2017 04/16/2017
    Normandy High School ST. LOUIS, MO 04/07/2017 04/08/2017
    Theatre Partners, LLC JACKSONVILLE, FL 04/12/2017 05/21/2017
    Alcovy High School COVINGTON, GA 04/14/2017 04/15/2017
    Franklin Learning Center PHILADELPHIA, PA 04/20/2017 04/21/2017
    Montclair Operetta Club LYNDHURST, NJ 04/21/2017 04/30/2017
    Memphis Black Arts Alliance, Inc. MEMPHIS, TN 04/21/2017 04/22/2017
    Cardinal Ritter High School ST. LOUIS, MO 05/04/2017 05/06/2017
    Footlite Musicals, Inc. INDIANAPOLIS, IN 05/05/2017 05/21/2017
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    Martin Luther King Jr High School LITHONIA, GA 05/11/2017 05/12/2017
    Red Mountain Theatre Company BIRMINGHAM, AL 05/12/2017 05/28/2017
    Lawrence High School LAWRENCE, MA 06/08/2017 06/11/2017
    ANKH Repertory Theatre WASHINGTON, DC 06/09/2017 06/25/2017
    New Freedom Theatre PHILADELPHIA, PA 06/14/2017 06/25/2017
    City of Miramar MIRAMAR, FL 07/22/2017 07/23/2017
    Genesius Theatre READING, PA 08/04/2017 08/19/2017
    Toby's Dinner Theatre Of Columbia, Inc. COLUMBIA, MD 08/31/2017 11/12/2017
    Lower Ossington Theatre TORONTO, ON 09/07/2017 11/12/2017
    Creative Ministries Perf Arts Center OAKDALE, NY 09/09/2017 09/30/2017
    Cape Fear Regional Theatre FAYETTEVILLE, NC 09/14/2017 10/01/2017
    Springer Opera House Arts Assn. Inc. COLUMBUS, GA 09/22/2017 10/08/2017
    Short North Stage COLUMBUS, OH 10/26/2017 11/12/2017
    Venice Little Theatre VENICE, FL 02/20/2018 03/18/2018
    Little Theatre of Winston-Salem 610 COLISEUM, NC 04/13/2018 04/29/2018
    Arts Collective Theatre WINDSOR, ON 04/27/2018 05/06/2018
    Smithtown Performing Arts Council, Inc. SMITHTOWN, NY 05/12/2018 06/17/2018
    Playhouse on the Square MEMPHIS, TN 06/15/2018 07/08/2018