Imperial Theatre, (12/20/1981 - 8/11/1985)

First Preview: Dec 09, 1981
Opening Date: Dec 20, 1981
Closing Date: Aug 11, 1985
Total Previews: 10
Total Performances: 1521

Category: Musical, Original, Broadway
Setting: Act I: The early sixties. Act II: The early seventies. Various cities throughout the U.S.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by Michael Bennett, Bob Avian, Geffen Records and The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Music by Henry Krieger; Book by Tom Eyen; Lyrics by Tom Eyen; Music orchestrated by Harold Wheeler; Musical Director: Yolanda Segovia; Vocal arrangements by Cleavant Derricks

Directed by Michael Bennett; Choreographed by Michael Bennett; Co - Choreographer: Michael Peters

Scenic Design by Robin Wagner; Costume Design by Theoni V. Aldredge; Associate Costume Designer: Frank Krenz; Lighting Design by Tharon Musser; Sound Design by Otts Munderloh; Hair Design by Ted Azar

General Manager: Marvin A. Krauss Associates, Inc., Eric M. Angelson, Gary Gunas and Steven C. Callahan; Management Associate: Joey Parnes

Production Stage Manager: Jeff Hamlin; Stage Manager: Zane Weiner and Frank di Filia; Technical Coordinator: Arthur Siccardi

Musical Supervisor: Harold Wheeler; Music Contractor: Seymour "Red" Press; Keyboards: Myles Chase; Drums: Brian Brake; Bass: Tinker Barfield; Guitars: Andrew Schwartz and Peter Strode; Music Preparation Supervisor: Mathilde Pincus, Al Miller and Bob Holloway

General Press Representative: Merle Debuskey; Press Representative: Diane Judge; Advertising: Serino, Coyne & Nappi; Casting: OLAIYA; Casting Consultant: Johnson-Liff Associates; Dance Captain: Brenda Braxton

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Opening Night Cast

Obba BabatundéC.C. White
Cleavant DerricksJames Thunder Early
Loretta DevineLorrell Robinson
Ben HarneyCurtis Taylor, Jr.
Jennifer HollidayEffie Melody White
Sheryl Lee RalphDeena Jones
Deborah BurrellMichelle Morris
One of "The Stepp Sisters"
Vondie Curtis-HallMarty
Tony FranklinWayne
David ThoméFrank
a press agent
Ensemble
Cheryl AlexanderCharlene
One of "Les Style"
Ensemble
Phylicia Ayers-AllenEnsemble
Vanessa BellOne of "The Stepp Sisters"
Ensemble
Charles BernardOne of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
Ensemble
Paul BinottoDave
Film Executive
Ensemble
Candy DarlingOne of "The Sweethearts"
Ensemble
Ronald DunhamEnsemble
Stephanie EleyOne of "The Sweethearts"
Ensemble
Sheila EllisEdna Burke
Ensemble
Thomas Scott GordonOne of "The James Early Band"
Tenita JordanOne of "The Stepp Sisters"
One of "Les Style"
Ensemble
Linda LloydJoanne
One of "Les Style"
Ensemble
Carol LogenOne of "The Sweethearts"
Joe LynnTiny Joe Dixon
Jerry
a nightclub owner
Ensemble
Frank MastrocolaEnsemble
Jamie PattersonOne of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
Ensemble
Wellington PerkinsOne of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
Ensemble
Scott PlankOne of "The James Early Band"
Film Executive
Ensemble
Brenda PressleyOne of "The Stepp Sisters"
One of "Les Style"
Ensemble
Charles Randolph-WrightOne of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
Ensemble
Larry StewartThe M.C.
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
Mr. Morgan
Ensemble
Weyman ThompsonOne of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
Film Executive
Ensemble

Swings: Brenda Braxton and Milton Craig Nealy

Understudies: Cheryl Alexander (Lorrell Robinson), Phylicia Ayers-Allen (Deena Jones), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Curtis Taylor, Jr.), Sheila Ellis (Effie Melody White), Tony Franklin (C.C. White), Linda Lloyd (Michelle Morris), Milton Craig Nealy (Jerry, Marty), Scott Plank (Frank), Larry Stewart (James Thunder Early) and Weyman Thompson (Wayne)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1982 Best Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Michael Bennett, Bob Avian, Geffen Records and The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

winner 1982 Best Book of a Musical [winner] 

Book by Tom Eyen

 1982 Best Original Score [nominee] 

Music by Henry Krieger; Lyrics by Tom Eyen

winner 1982 Best Actor in a Musical [winner] 

Ben Harney

winner 1982 Best Actress in a Musical [winner] 

Jennifer Holliday

 1982 Best Actress in a Musical [nominee] 

Sheryl Lee Ralph

winner 1982 Best Featured Actor in a Musical [winner] 

Cleavant Derricks

 1982 Best Featured Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Obba Babatundé

 1982 Best Scenic Design [nominee] 

Robin Wagner

 1982 Best Costume Design [nominee] 

Theoni V. Aldredge

winner 1982 Best Lighting Design [winner] 

Tharon Musser

winner 1982 Best Choreography [winner] 

Michael Bennett

winner 1982 Best Choreography [winner] 

Michael Peters

 1982 Best Direction of a Musical [nominee] 

Michael Bennett

Drama Desk Award

 1982 Outstanding Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Michael Bennett, Bob Avian, Geffen Records and The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

winner 1982 Outstanding Actress in a Musical [winner] 

Jennifer Holliday

 1982 Outstanding Actress in a Musical [nominee] 

Sheryl Lee Ralph

winner 1982 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical [winner] 

Cleavant Derricks

 1982 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Ben Harney

 1982 Outstanding Director of a Musical [nominee] 

Michael Bennett

 1982 Outstanding Lyrics [nominee] 

Lyrics by Tom Eyen

 1982 Outstanding Costume Design [nominee] 

Theoni V. Aldredge

winner 1982 Outstanding Lighting Design [winner] 

Tharon Musser

winner 1982 Outstanding Set Design [winner] 

Robin Wagner

Theatre World

winner 1982 Award [recipient] 

Jennifer Holliday

Songs

music by Henry Krieger; lyrics by Tom Eyen

ACT 1 Sung By
I'm Looking for SomethingThe Stepp Sisters
Goin' DowntownLittle Albert and the Tru-Tones
Takin' the Long Way HomeTiny Joe Dixon
Move (You're Steppin' on My Heart)Effie Melody White, Lorrell Robinson and Deena Jones
Fake Your Way to the TopJames Thunder Early, Effie Melody White, Lorrell Robinson, Deena Jones and The James Early Band
Cadillac CarCurtis Taylor, Jr., James Thunder Early, C.C. White, Marty and The Company
Cadillac Car (Reprise) The Company
Cadillac Car (Reprise) The Company
Cadillac Car (Reprise) Dave and the Sweethearts
Steppin' to the Bad SideCurtis Taylor, Jr., C.C. White, James Thunder Early, Wayne, Effie Melody White, Lorrell Robinson, Deena Jones and The Company
Party, PartyThe Company
I Want You BabyJames Thunder Early, Effie Melody White, Lorrell Robinson and Deena Jones
FamilyC.C. White, Curtis Taylor, Jr., James Thunder Early, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson
DreamgirlsEffie Melody White, Lorrell Robinson and Deena Jones
Press ConferenceThe Company
Only the BeginningCurtis Taylor, Jr., Deena Jones and Effie Melody White
HeavyEffie Melody White, Lorrell Robinson and Deena Jones
Heavy (Reprise) Effie Melody White, Lorrell Robinson and Deena Jones
It's All OverCurtis Taylor, Jr., Effie Melody White, Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, C.C. White, Michelle Morris and James Thunder Early
And I Am Telling You I'm Not GoingEffie Melody White
Love Love You BabyLorrell Robinson, Deena Jones and Michelle Morris
ACT 2 Sung By
"Dreams" MedleyDeena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, Michelle Morris and The Company
Dreamgirls (Reprise) Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, Michelle Morris and The Company
I Am ChangingEffie Melody White
One More Picture PleaseThe Company
When I First Saw YouCurtis Taylor, Jr. and Deena Jones
Got to Be Good TimesThe Five Tuxedos
Ain't No PartyLorrell Robinson and James Thunder Early
I Meant You No HarmJames Thunder Early
QuintetteDeena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, C.C. White, Michelle Morris and James Thunder Early
The RapJames Thunder Early, C.C. White, Marty, Frank (a press agent), Lorrell Robinson and The Company
I Miss You Old FriendEffie Melody White, Marty, C.C. White and Les Style
One Night OnlyEffie Melody White
One Night Only (Reprise) Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, Michelle Morris and The Company
I'm SomebodyDeena Jones, Lorrell Robinson and Michelle Morris
Faith in MyselfEffie Melody White
Hard to Say Goodbye, My LoveDeena Jones, Lorrell Robinson and Michelle Morris

Reviews


New York Daily News: "'Dreamgirls' - empty dream"

"Dreamgirls" is all style and no substance. The new Michael Bennett musical, which opened last night at the Imperial, is as flashy as a shopgirl's dream and just as empty.

Ever since "A Chorus Line," one must think of each of his new efforts as "the Michael Bennett musical" because, while the prestigious Broadway director-choreographer writes neither the words nor the music, the end result bears his unmistakable stamp.

And so it is with "Dreamgirls." Tom Eyen's cynical book about the rise to fame and eventual dissolution of a black female vocal trio, one clearly inspired by the Supremes, has sent stage patterns, movement and sound whirling about in Bennett's head. And what he has come up with is an example of razzle-dazzle dependent to an enormous extent on the glittery, extravagant, thoroughly professional work of scenic designer Robin Wagner, costumer Theoni V. Aldredge and lighting designer Tharon Musser.

Thousands of lights on walls, on sliding and revolving towers, on rising and descending bridges, and along advancing and receding stairways and platforms wink at us or illuminate an endless array of showy costumes. "Dreamgirls" often resembles an outrageous fashion show set to music.

Eyen's book, of which his lyrics are often an integral part, is mostly a conventional backstage story, this time about blacks and the world of '60s pop as exemplified by the Motown sound (though the Dreamettes, later the Dreams, are New York girls). There is a story here, the difficulties faced by blacks and their music in breaking though the white barrier.

The best part - in fact, the only good part - of Eyen's book touches on the scrungy aspects of the recording business: a scene in which a bland white group scores a hit with a record "covering" a Dreamettes single is amusing, and there is an effectively staged (mostly in silhouette) payola sequence insuring the Dreamettes' breakthrough on the air as, ironically, their music becomes increasingly smooth and commercial.

But the criss-crossed love affairs that the book wallows in, concluding with the lead singer, Deena, quitting the group to become a movie star and give "Diana some competition," are tedious. And while the Dreams (and the show) end up reassembled for a farewell appearance, it is fitting that the high spot of their career should be a booking at that sucker's Disneyland known as Las Vegas. At every turn, as the book tries to deal frankly with the seamy side of the pop music world, its triteness undermines it.

Eyen's lyrics are commonplace but worthy of Henry Krieger's musical pastiches of the '60s and early '70s.

Bennett's staging has his customary flair and fluidity, though there are very few dance numbers as such, most of the choreography being devoted to the slithering movements of vocal groups, sometimes (as in Bennett's "Follies" staging), facing an unseen audience upstage.

The largest share of the solo work is allotted to Jennifer Holliday, a heavyset young woman with negligible acting ability but with a strong gospel-singing style that is effective when heard once, as in a nagging torch song to a lover trying to shake her off, but that is overused. As Effie, she is summarily replaced in the Dreamettes by a sleeker model, and at the same time she is impregnated by their manager, who turns his attention to Deena. Ben Harney plays the manager, and Obba Babatunde plays the group's songwriter.

The Dreams are attractively set forth by Sheryl Lee Ralph (Deena), Loretta Devine and Deborah Burrell. But the evening's most engaging performance is given by Cleavant Derricks as a snake-hipped, womanizing pop star, a latter-day Sportin' Life, with whom the Dreamettes are initiated into the tawdry ways of show biz (offstage voices sing "that's show biz" at various story turns until the device becomes corny).

Harold Wheeler's orchestrations, which include musical phrases and impulses under scenes, are excellent, as are the vocal arrangements by the versatile Derricks, though the miked principals often sound as if they're singing through tin cans.

"Dreamgirls" represents an inordinate expenditure of talent and money on a musical that resembles a series of rehearsal periods for some slick TV commercial.


New York Daily News
12/21/1981

Replacement/Transfer Info


The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.


Imperial Theatre

(12/20/1981 - 8/11/1985)
Management Associate: Allan Williams, Jeff Capitola.

Production Supervisor: Jeff Hamlin.

Bass: Luico Hopper.

Cast

Richie Abanes
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
One of "The James Early Band"
Cheryl Alexander
Lorrell Robinson
Khandi Alexander
Charlene
Ensemble
One of "Les Style"
Stepp Sister
Hinton Battle
James Thunder Early
Ethel Beatty
Charlene
Joanne
One of "Les Style"
Susan Beaubian
Deena Jones
One of "Les Style"
One of "The Stepp Sisters"
Ray Benson
Dave
Film Executive
Mary Denise Bentley
Ensemble
One of "Les Style"
Brenda Braxton
Charlene
One of "Les Style"
Linda Leilani Brown
Deena Jones
Barry Bruce
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
One of "The James Early Band"
Deborah Burrell
Deena Jones
Teresa Burrell
Lorrell Robinson
Terry Burrell
Michelle Morris
One of "The Stepp Sisters"
Lorrell Robinson
Abe Clark
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
The M.C.
Lawrence Clayton
C.C. White
Bobby Daye
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
One of "The James Early Band"
Tony Franklin
C.C. White
Thomas Scott Gordon
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
Lisa Grant
Ensemble
One of "The Sweethearts"
Christopher Gregory
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
David Alan Grier
James Thunder Early
Nina Hennessey
Ensemble
One of "The Sweethearts"
Rhetta Hughes
One of "The Stepp Sisters"
Roy Jones
Jerry
a nightclub owner
Tiny Joe Dixon
Adriane Lenox
Charlene
Ensemble
Lorrell Robinson
One of "Les Style"
Kecia Lewis
Ensemble
Edna Burke
Julia McGirt
Edna Burke
Effie Melody White
Hal Miller
Ensemble
Film Executive
Tim Millett
Ensemble
One of "The James Early Band"
Gordon Owens
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
One of "The James Early Band"
Wellington Perkins
Wayne
C.C. White
Richard Poole
Dave (1983 - ?)
Film Executive (1983 - ?)
Brenda Pressley
Michelle Morris
Eric Riley
Ensemble
Film Executive
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
One of "The James Early Band"
Wayne
Roz Ryan
Effie Melody White
Edna Burke
Graciela Simpson
Ensemble
One of "The Stepp Sisters"
Ronald "Smokey" Stevens
Ensemble
Mr. Morgan
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
The M.C.
Leon Summers, Jr.
Mr. Morgan
The M.C.
Ensemble
One of "The Five Tuxedoes"
Gina Taylor
Ensemble
One of "The Stepp Sisters"
Johnnie Teamer
Ensemble
One of "Les Style"
Joanne
Weyman Thompson
Curtis Taylor, Jr.
Vanessa Townsell
Effie Melody White
Buddy Vest
Frank
a press agent
Ensemble
Sean Walker
Ensemble
One of "Little Albert and the Tru-Tones"
One of "The James Early Band"
David Warren-Gibson
Ensemble
Film Executive
Allison Williams
Edna Burke
Ensemble
Joanne
One of "Les Style"



Understudies: Richie Abanes (Dave), Ethel Beatty (Deena Jones, Michelle Morris), Susan Beaubian (Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, Michelle Morris), Charles Bernard (Wayne, Tiny Joe Dixon), Paul Binotto (Jerry), Terry Burrell (Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson), Abe Clark (Mr. Morgan, The M.C.), Frank di Filia (Frank), Tony Franklin (Curtis Taylor, Jr., James Thunder Early), Phillip Gilmore (James Thunder Early), Christopher Gregory (Frank), Adriane Lenox (Lorrell Robinson), Kecia Lewis (Effie Melody White), Julia McGirt (Effie Melody White), Hal Miller (Dave, Frank, Jerry), Milton Craig Nealy (Mr. Morgan, The M.C.), Gordon Owens (C.C. White, Wayne), Wellington Perkins (C.C. White, Mr. Morgan, The M.C.), Brenda Pressley (Deena Jones, Effie Melody White, Michelle Morris), Eric Riley (Wayne), Roz Ryan (Effie Melody White), Ronald "Smokey" Stevens (Marty), Larry Stewart (Curtis Taylor, Jr., Marty), Leon Summers, Jr. (Marty), Johnnie Teamer (Deena Jones, Michelle Morris), Sean Walker (M.C., Mr. Morgan), David Warren-Gibson (Frank), Lillias White (Effie Melody White).


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