THROWBACK THURSDAY: 5 Interesting Facts about Dreamgirls

DreamGirls_Playbill_300This week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY is taking a look at the 6 time Tony award winning musical DreamgirlsMany of you may be very familiar with the film that came out in 2006 starring Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, and Anika Noni Rose, but how much do you know about the stage production? The musical, spanning the 60s and 70s, follows the highs and lows of a Chicago girl group called “The Dreams.” With music by Henry Kreiger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, the original production of  Dreamgirls came to Broadway in 1981 at the Imperial Theater and went on to be nominated for 13 Tony awards that year!

1. The show had 3 different names before it became Dreamgirls

At the beginning of development, the musical started out as One Night Only. While Joseph Papp was workshopping the show, the name was Project #9 (thank goodness that didn’t last). When Michael Bennett came on as the director, it became Big Dreams. Finally, they settled on the name we all know that show as today.

Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Loretta Devine  (Photo Credit: Richard Skipper)

Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Loretta Devine (Photo Credit: Richard Skipper)

2. Effie was originally killed off!

Apparently in an earlier draft, Effie was killed off at the end of Act I. Jennifer Holliday left the production workshop of that draft because she didn’t like that her character was killed off so early in the musical. Effie’s significance grew over the many drafts and workshops, and it was Holliday’s persistence that lead to the strong leading character we know today.

 

 

Diana Ross and the Supremes (Photo Credit: Rollingstone)

Diana Ross and the Supremes (Photo Credit: Rollingstone)

3. Inspired by the Supremes

Though the original producers denied profusely that Dreamgirls was based on Motown’s iconic female trio, many elements of the story parallel actual details in the history of the Supremes. The love affair between Deena Jones and Curtis Taylor Jr. is similar to the affair carried on between Diana Ross and Barry Gordy Jr. The lead singer for the Supremes and the Dreams switched once they were discovered. Several other similarities seem a little too obvious not to be considered inspiration. 

 

Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and Anika Noni Rose in the 2006 film Dreamgirls (Photo Credit: imdb.com)

Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and Anika Noni Rose in the 2006 film Dreamgirls (Photo Credit: imdb.com)

4. Major Changes from Stage to Screen

The film adaptation changed several elements in the adaptation from the stage. Most notable is the addition of 4 new songs and the cutting of several songs present in the stage version – one of those being “Ain’t No Party.” The Chicago setting was exchange for Detroit in the film as well.

5. Whitney Houston was supposed to play Deena

Warner Bros. bought the film rights to the show in 1980, and Whitney Houston was considered for the part. Lauren Hill was also an option later on, but it took 26 years to finally create the film. By that time, Whitney was way to old for the part. Could you imagine Whitney as Deena!? Well, Beyonce scored the role in 2006, so I guess we’ll never know what could have been.

Watch Jennifer Holliday and the original cast perform “And I Am Telling You” at the 1982 Tony Awards:

Now compare that to the Jennifer Hudson version from the film adaptation:

Have you seen the stage version of Dreamgirls? Dreamgirls hasn’t been on Broadway since the 80s. Do you think it deserves a revival? What did you think of the film adaptation? Scroll down to share your thoughts in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “THROWBACK THURSDAY: 5 Interesting Facts about Dreamgirls

  1. I’m an old guy who was around in the 50’s and 60’s when they were cranking out those stock rock ‘n roll biz movies. I’ve seen this movie a dozen times before. Dreamgirls has the clichéd characters and the predictable paper thin plot that were characteristic of the genre. Even in the context of that genre Dreamgirls doesn’t make the grade because it has an instantly forgettable soundtrack.

    I think Dreamgirls was supposed to be a parody of those old movies, but none of the critics got it because they are all too young to have seen them. They are not classics. Dreamgirls takes itself very seriously with not one moment of humor. Therein lies the parody — nobody took those old rock n roll movies seriously.

    As those old rock ‘n roll movies demonstrated, transferring great stage numbers straight to film with twinkie filling between the numbers does not make a great movie.

    My nomination for the most over-hyped movie of 2006 goes to …

    • Thanks for your comment here on the site! Have you ever seen a stage production of Dreamgirls? I’d be curious to know what you think about the stage version vs the movie adaptation. The stage version came first and is what this article is referencing. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on AIC!-SC

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