Dreamgirls is the smash-hit, Tony Award-winning musical which premiered on Broadway in 1982, starring award-winning actress Jennifer Holliday as the iconic Effie White. Since its premiere, Dreamgirls has enjoyed several revivals across the world, including tours in the US, South Africa, Malaysia, Australia and Colombia. Never before seen in London, the production opens at the West End’s Savoy Theatre in 2016, starring Glee’s Amber Riley. In 2006, the musical was made into a film starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Jamie Foxx. Including well-known songs such as “One Night Only”, “Cadillac Car”, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and “I Am Changing”, Dreamgirls is one of the world’s best-known and best-loved musicals.


Henry Krieger

Tom Eyen

Tom Eyen

Rumoured to be based on Diana Ross and the Supremes

Bill Condon

Michael Bennett, Bob Avian, Geffen Records, The Shubert Organization

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett and Michael Peters


Original Broadway Production

Imperial Theatre - Opened 20 Dec 1981, closed 11 Aug 1985, 1521 performances

Cast: Jennifer Holliday (Effie White), Sheryl Lee Ralph (Deena Jones), Loretta Devine (Lorrell Robinson), Ben Harney (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Cleavant Derricks (James “Thunder” Early), Obba Babatunde (C.C. White), Deborah Burrell (Michelle Morris), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Marty Madison), Tony Franklin (Wayne)


US Tour (1983)

US Tour - Opened 20 Mar 1983, closed 6 Jul 1984

Cast: Jennifer Holliday (Effie White), Linda Leilani Brown (Deena Jones), Arnetia Walker (Lorrell Robinson), Larry Riley (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Clinton Derricks-Carroll (James “Thunder” Early), Lawrence Clayton (C.C. White), Deborah Burrell (Michelle Morris), Weyman Thompson (Marty Madison), Maurice Felder (Wayne)


Broadway Revival (1987)

Ambassador Theatre - Opened 28 Jun 1987, closed 29 Nov 1987, 177 performances

Cast: Lillias White (Effie White), Alisa Gyse (Deena Jones), Arnetia Walker (Lorrell Robinson), Weyman Thompson (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Herbert Lee Rawlings, Jr (James “Thunder” Early), Kevyn Morrow (C.C. White), Susan Beaubian (Michelle Morris), Roy L. Jones (Marty Madison), Milton Craig Nealy (Wayne)


US Tour (1997)

US Tour - Opened 30 Sep 1997, closed 26 Apr 1998

Cast: Roz White (Effie White), La Tanya Hall (Deena Jones), Tonya Dixon (Lorrell Robinson), Brian Everett Chandler (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Kevin-Anthony (James “Thunder” Early), Gary E. Vincent (C.C. White), Kimberly JaJuan (Michelle Morris), Ron Kellum (Marty Madison), Milton Craig Nealy (Wayne) Directed and choreographed by Tony Stevens


Broadway Concert Revival (2001)

Ford Center for the Performing Arts - Opened 24 Sep 2001, closed 24 Sep 2001, 1 performances

Cast: Lillias White (Effie White), Audra McDonald (Deena Jones), Heather Headley (Lorrell Robinson), Norm Lewis (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Billy Porter (James “Thunder” Early), Darius de Haas (C.C. White), Tamara Tunie (Michelle Morris), James Stovall (Marty Madison), Bobby Daye (Wayne)


US Tour (2004)

US Tour - Opened 9 Jan 2004, closed 29 Feb 2004

Cast: Frenchie Davis (Effie White), Angela Robinson (Deena Jones), Ramona Keller (Lorrell Robinson), David Jennings (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Harrison White (James “Thunder” Early), Andre Garner (C.C. White), Rosena M. Hill (Michelle Morris), Regi Dais (Marty Madison), Christopher L. Morgan (Wayne) Directed by Mark S. Hoebee and choreographed by Brenda Braxton


US Tour (2009)

US Tour - Opened 22 Nov 2009, closed 26 Dec 2010

Cast: Moya Angela (Effie White), Syesha Mercardo (Deena Jones), Adrienne Robinson (Lorrell Robinson), Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Chester Gregory (James “Thunder” Early), Trevon Davis (C.C. White), Margaret Hoffman (Michelle Morris), Milton Craig Nealy (Marty Madison), Terrance Lemar Thomas (Wayne) Directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom


Original London Production

Savoy Theatre - Opened 21 Nov 2016, closed 11 Mar 2017

Cast: Amber Riley (Effie White), Liisi LaFontaine (Deena Jones), Ibinabo Jack (Lorrell Robinson), Joe Aaron Reid (Curtis Taylor, Jr), Adam J. Bernard (James “Thunder” Early), Tyrone Huntley (C.C. White), Lily Frazer (Michelle Morris), Karen Mav and Ruth Brown (Effie Alternates) Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

What was your favourite production? Add your thoughts in the comments box


Twitter Synopsis:

Broadway’s smash-hit musical following girl group The Dreamettes as they make it big and become Deena Jones and the Dreams.

Add your own Twitter style synopsis (140 characters only!) in the comments box

Set in the heart of Chicago in 1962, and widely speculated to be based on the real journey of Diana Ross and the Supremes, Dreamgirls follows a trio of young girls as they enter a talent competition in the hopes of making it big. The Dreamettes feature best friends Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, with Effie as lead singer. Singing a song written by Effie’s brother C.C., the group unfortunately lose the contest, but are met by Curtis Taylor, Jr, a used-car salesman.

Once Curtis becomes the group’s manager, he convinces James “Thunder” Early to let them be his backing singers, becoming a huge success. Soon, Curtis persuades Jimmy and the Dreamettes to move away from Rhythm and Blues and over to pop, where they are usurped by white groups. Curtis begins to bribe DJs to play Jimmy’s next single, which becomes a major hit.

However, things begin to get slightly more complicated once Effie and Curtis begin dating, and Jimmy and Lorrell begin an illicit affair. Curtis soon replaces Marty as Jimmy’s manager, who also helped write the songs for the group. Quickly, Curtis tries to transform Jimmy into a Perry Como-esque singer, whilst establishing the Dreamettes as their own act. Renaming the girls The Dreams, Curtis puts Deena as lead singer, due to her more appealing looks and pop vocals. Effie is hurt, but C.C. convinces her to go along with the plan. The Dreams make their debut in Ohio, with Curtis informing Deena that he’s going to make her the star.

Over the years, Deena becomes a superstar and The Dreams become a huge pop success, but Effie starts to miss rehearsals, becoming temperamental and suspecting Deena and Curtis of an affair. Lorrell attempts to keep the peace, but the group soon splits and Curtis replaces Effie with Michelle Morris. The Dreams leave Effie behind, despite her heartbroken appeal.

In Act II, the action moves forward to 1972, where Deena Jones and the Dreams have become the country’s leading pop group. Deena has married Curtis and C.C. is in love with Michelle, although Jimmy has long since disappeared. Effie is back in Chicago and it is revealed that she was missing shows and rehearsals due to being pregnant with Curtis’ child, who she now looks after by herself. Marty has become her manager and is attempting to help her make a comeback.

Deena decides that she wants to pursue an acting career, without Curtis as her manager. C.C. has become annoyed by Curtis’ constant rearrangements of his songs and the tension begins to build. Whilst waiting to perform at a fundraiser, Deena Jones and the Dreams meet Jimmy Early once more, and Jimmy finds himself locked in another argument with Lorrell. With Lorrell in tears and Deena attempting to comfort her, Michelle convinces C.C. to reconcile with Effie, and Jimmy’s set falls apart on stage.

C.C. and Effie meet at a recording studio, and C.C. apologises to Effie for hijacking her career. Effie records C.C.’s emotional “One Night Only” ballad, which begins to climb the charts, much to the chagrin of Curtis, who threatens legal action. As Curtis makes arrangements to ruin Effie’s career, Effie and Deena reconcile too, and Deena learns that Effie and Curtis share a child. Realising the kind of man Curtis really is, Deena finds the courage to leave him. Once “One Night Only” has become a hit, Deena leaves The Dreams to become an actress. For the final number of The Dreams’ farewell concert, Effie joins the girls on stage.


Act I

  • “I’m Lookin’ for Something” – The Stepp Sisters, Marty and Company
  • “Goin’ Downtown” – Little Albert and The Tru-Tones
  • “Takin’ the Long Way Home” – Tiny Joe Dixon
  • “Move (You’re Steppin’ on My Heart)” – Effie, Deena and Lorrell
  • “Fake Your Way to the Top” – Jimmy, Effie, Deena and Lorrell
  • “Cadillac Car” – Curtis, Jimmy, C.C., Marty, Effie, Deena and Lorrell
  • “Cadillac Car (One the Road)” – Company
  • “Cadillac Car (In the Recording Studio)” – Jimmy, Effie, Deena and Lorrell
  • “Cadillac Car (Reprise)” – Dave and the Sweethearts
  • “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” – Curtis, Jimmy, C.C., Wayne, Lorrell, Effie, Deena and Company
  • “Party, Party” – Effie, Curtis, Jimmy, Lorrell and Company
  • “I Want You Baby” – Jimmy, Effie, Deena and Lorrell
  • “Family” – Effie, C.C., Jimmy, Effie, Deena and Lorrell
  • “Dreamgirls” – Deena, Lorrell and Effie
  • “Press Conference” – Deena, Curtis and Company
  • “Only the Beginning” – Curtis and Effie
  • “Heavy/Stop Bringing Us Down” – Deena, Lorrell, Effie and Curtis
  • “Drivin’ Down the Strip” – Jimmy
  • “It’s All Over” – Effie, Curtis, C.C., Deena, Lorrell, Jimmy and Michelle
  • “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” – Effie
  • “Love Love Me Baby” – Deena, Lorrell and Michelle

Act II

  • “Act II Opening” – Deena, Lorrell, Michelle, Curtis, C.C. and Jimmy
  • “I Am Changing” – Effie
  • “One More Picture Please” – Lorrell, Michelle, C.C., Curtis and Company
  • “When I First Saw You” – Curtis and Deena
  • “Got to Be Good Times” – The Five Tuxedos
  • “Ain’t No Party” – Lorrell and Jimmy
  • “I Meant You No Harm” – Jimmy
  • “Quintette” – Lorrell, Deena, C.C. and Michelle
  • “The Rap” – Jimmy
  • “Firing of Jimmy” – Jimmy, Curtis, Lorrell and Company
  • “I Miss You Old Friend” – Les Styles, Marty, C.C. and Effie
  • “One Night Only” – Effie and Company
  • “One Night Only (Disco)” – Deena, Lorrell, Michelle, Curtis and Company
  • “I’m Somebody” – Deena, Lorrell and Michelle
  • “Chicago/Faith in Myself” – Effie, C.C., Curtis, Deena and Marty
  • “Listen” – Deena and Effie
  • “Hard to Say Goodbye, My Love” – Deena, Lorrell and Michelle
  • “Dreamgirls (Reprise)” – Effie, Deena, Lorrell and Michelle

1982 Tony Awards: Best Book of a Musical (Tom Eyen), Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Ben Harney), Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Jennifer Holliday), Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Cleavant Derricks), Best Choreography (Michael Bennett and Michael Peters), Best Lighting Design (Tharon Musser)

1982 Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Book of a Musical (Tom Eyen), Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Jennifer Holliday), Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Cleavant Derricks), Outstanding Set Design (Robin Wagner), Outstanding Lighting Design (Tharon Musser)

1983 Grammy Awards: Best Cast Show Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (Jennifer Holliday)


UK: Tams-Witmark

USA: Tams-Witmark

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