A 2013 documentary film “20 Feet From Stardom” focused attention on the backup singers behind the stars, the women who gave their hearts and souls to the music but were rarely acknowledged. 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. Reading between the lines of the songs, it could also be the meteoric rise of Diana Ross and The Supremes, as they struggled with successes and sacrifices to make it to the top of the charts.
To follow the saga of Effie Melody White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, bogey over to Goodspeed Musicals before Saturday, December 30 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.
Effie (Trejah Bostic), Deena (Ta-Tynisa Wilson) and Lorrell (Keirsten Hodgens) 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. (Evan Tyrone Martin) who promises them the moon. A used-car salesman, Curtis convinces a popular rhythm and blues star, James “Thunder” Early (Mykal Kilgore) and his manager Marty (Robert Cornelius) to hire the Dreamettes as his backup singers, to launch their career. Effie’s brother CC (Jos N. Banks) 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. Lili-Anne Brown directs these mega-talented stars as they try to climb over each other to the top.
For tickets ($30-87), call the Goodspeed Musicals, 6 Main Street, East Haddam at 860-873-8668 or online at goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 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 Samantha C. Jones, the lighting by Jason Lynch and Adam Honoré and wigs by Earon Chew Nealey alone make the trip to Goodspeed worthwhile.