"DREAMGIRLS" A SENSATIONAL SHOW

By Bonnie Goldberg

A 2013 documentary film focuses attention on the backup singers behind the stars, the women who give their hearts and souls to the music but are rarely acknowledged in "20 Feet from Stardom." Their story could well be the story of a trio of girl singers from Chicago, The Dreamettes, who travel to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York for their one big chance, to win an amateur talent show.

To follow the saga of Effie Melody White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, bogey over to Ivoryton Playhouse before Sunday, September 1 to enter the world of a Motown girl group in the 1960's and 1970's in the hit musical "Dreamgirls," with book and lyrics by Tom Eyan and music by Henry Krieger.

Loosely based on the meteoric rise to fame of Diana Ross and The Supremes, "Dreamgirls" follows the struggles and successes and sacrifices of what it takes to make it to the top of the music charts.

Effie (Sheniqua Denise Trotman), Deena (Jennlee Shallow) and Lorrell (Ashley Jeudy) are young and ambitious black women who desperately want to find fame and fortune. They tie their star to the coattails of a less than honorable promoter Curtis Taylor Jr. (Damian Norfleet) who promises them the moon. A used-car salesman, Curtis convinces a popular rhythm and blues star, James "Thunder" Early (Caliaf St. Aubyn) and his manager Marty (Collin Lyle Howard) to hire the Dreamettes as his backup singers, to launch their career. Effie's brother C.C.(Datus Puryear) is a great songwriter who writes tunes like "Cadillac Man," and Curtis convinces Early to branch out into the pop music market.

With Curtis' promptings and dishonest probings, the girls and Early undergo dramatic changes, and conflicts arise that threaten all the relationships on stage and off. Egos are bruised and the personalities involved explode. Great songs like "Cadillac Man," "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," "One Night Only," "Steppin' to the Bad Side" and "Dreamgirls" propel the action through this powerhouse of a show. Lawrence Thelen directs these mega-talented stars as they try to climb over each other to the top. Ivoryton's intimate stage makes this an especially sensational show.

For tickets ($40, seniors $35, students $20, children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Follow the tempo, the tears, the trials and the triumphs as this trio of hopefuls takes on the music industry and how luck, prejudice and ambition color their legendary story. The costumes by Njaye Olds and wigs by Elizabeth Cipollina alone make the trip to Ivoryton worthwhile.

 

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