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Across The Pond

Dreamgirls May Debut In The West End For 35th Anniversary

The divas of Dreamgirls sashayed through Broadway in 1981 leaving an indelible impression with a string of megahits and outstanding acting; snatching six Tony Awards, including Outstanding Book of a Musical, Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and Outstanding Choreography. After a 1987 Broadway revival, national tours, and a successful movie, that starred Beyoncé and netted Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award, “Deena Jones,” “Effie White,” “James Thunder Early” and the rest of the crew are heading across the pond.

Sonia Friedman Productions has acquired the rights to a full West End production of the musical and it is rumored that Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin) will direct. The musical’s planning is still in the early stages and no venue has been mentioned, but it’s believed that it will go to London towards the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017. A London premiere in 2016, would mark the 35th Anniversary of the musical.DreamGirls_Playbill_300

Casting also hasn’t been announced, but open singer auditions were held in May for “black and mixed race performers with strong soul/pop voices for the lead roles of Effie White, Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, Curtis Taylor Jr., Jimmy Early and C.C. White.”

The musical, which features music by Henry Krieger and a book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, tells the story of a singing trio of black divas, “The Dreams,” and their rise to stardom in the 60’s. The trio is eventually torn apart by another predictable trio of fame, fortune, and men. The original Broadway production opened on December 20, 1981 and closed on August 11, 1985, after 1,521 performances. The cast starred Sheryl Lee Ralph as “Deena Jones,” Jennifer Holliday as “Effie White,” Loretta Devine as “Lorrell Robinson,” Ben Harney as “Curtis Taylor, Jr.,” Cleavant Derricks as “James “Thunder” Early,” and Obba Babatundé as “C. C. White.”

In addition to Beyoncé as “Deena” and Hudson as “Effie,” the 2006 hit movie had plenty of star power with Jamie Fox as “Curtis,” Eddie Murphy as “Jimmie,” Anika Noni Rose as “Lorrell,” and Danny Glover as “Marty.” Original Dreamgirl, Loretta Devine also made a cameo appearance as a jazz singer.

Sonia Friedman Productions is a West End and Broadway production company responsible for some of the most successful theatre productions in London and on Broadway over the past few years. Since 1990, the company has developed, initiated, and produced over 135 new productions, including Much Ado About Nothing, Jerusalem, The Book of Mormon, Legally Blonde the Musical, Betrayal, Arcadia, The Mountaintop, The Children’s Hour and All My Sons.

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