This is about the musical. For the film adaptation, see Dreamgirls (2006 film).
Dreamgirls is a stage musical.
- Jennifer Holliday - Effie Melody White
- Sheryl Lee Ralph - Deena Jones
- Loretta Devine - Lorrell Robinson
- Ben Harney - Curtis Taylor Jr.
- Cleavant Derricks - Jimmy "Thunder" Early
- Obba Babatundé - C.C. White
- Deborah Burrell - Michelle Morris
- Vondie Curtis-Hall - Marty Madison
- Tony Franklin - Wayne
In 1962, The Dreamettes, a hopeful black girl group from Chicago, enter the famous Amateur Night talent competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. The group is composed conducted of full-figured lead singer Effie White and best friends, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson. For the contest, the Dreamettes sing "Move (You're Steppin' on My Heart)", a song written by Effie's brother, C.C., who accompanies them to the talent show. Unfortunately, they lose the talent show, but backstage, the girls and C.C. meet Curtis Taylor, Jr., a car salesman who becomes the Dreamettes' manager.
Curtis convinces James "Thunder" Early, a popular R&B star, and his manager, Marty, to hire The Dreamettes as backup singers. Though Jimmy Early and the Dreamettes' first performance together is successful, Jimmy is desperate for new material. Curtis convinces Jimmy and Marty that they should venture beyond traditional rhythm and blues and soul audiences and aim for the pop market. C.C. composes "Cadillac Car" for Jimmy and the Dreamettes, who tour and record the single upon their return. "Cadillac Car" makes its way up the pop charts, but a cover version by white pop singers Dave and the Sweethearts steals the original recording's thunder. Angered by "Cadillac Car's" usurpation, Curtis, C.C., and Jimmy's producer, Wayne, resort to payola, bribing disc jockeys across the nation to play Jimmy Early and the Dreamettes' next single, "Steppin' to the Bad Side". As a result, the record becomes a major pop hit. Conflict arises between Marty and Curtis when Curtis moves in on Marty's turf: Jimmy Early. Things become more complicated when Effie begins dating Curtis, and Jimmy, a married man, begins an affair with Lorrell.
Curtis replaces him, strongly determined to make his black singers household names. Curtis attempts to transform Jimmy Early into a Perry Como-esque pop singer, and concentrates on establishing the Dreamettes as their own act, renaming them The Dreams, changing their act to give them a more sophisticated and pop-friendly look and sound. The most crucial of these changes is the establishment of Deena as lead singer, instead of Effie. Effie is resentful of her change in status within the group. C.C. convinces her to go along with Curtis's plan. After a fight between Marty and Curtis, Marty quits as Jimmy's manager and Curtis takes over. The Dreams make their club debut in the Crystal Room in Cleveland, Ohio, singing their first single. After a triumphant show, the press is eager to meet the newly minted stars. Curtis declares to Deena, "I'm going to make you the most famous woman who's ever lived," as the slighted Effie asks "What about me?". Over the next few years, the Dreams become a mainstream success with hit singles. As Deena is increasingly feted as a star, Effie becomes temperamental and unpredictable. She suspects Curtis and Deena of having an affair. Lorrell attempts to keep peace between her bandmates, but the task seems difficult.
In 1967, the group – now known as "Deena Jones and the Dreams" – is set to make their Las Vegas début. However, when Jimmy stops by to visit the girls, he learns from the others that Effie has been missing shows because of illness (it is later revealed that she was pregnant with Curtis's child). Curtis and Deena are convinced that she is trying to sabotage the act. Curtis replaces Effie with a new singer, Jackie Morris, a young girlfriend change about which Effie learns before anyone has a chance to tell her. Effie confronts Curtis, C.C., and the group, but despite her personal appeal to Curtis, the heartbroken Effie is left behind as Deena Jones and the Dreams forge ahead without her.
By 1972, Deena Jones and the Dreams have become the most successful girl group in the country. Deena has married Curtis, and C.C. is in love with Jackie. Jimmy has gone years without a hit. Curtis shows little interest in updating or revitalizing Jimmy's act because of Curtis's preoccupation with Deena and because of Jimmy's habit of sneaking funk numbers into his repertoire of pop-friendly songs. Effie is back in Chicago, a single mother to her daughter, Magic (or Ronald in other versions), struggling to get another break. Marty, who is now her manager, compels her to rebuild her confidence and give up her "diva behaviors." Once she does, Effie is able to make a show business comeback. In contrast to Effie's struggling return to her musical career, Deena wants to stop singing and become an actress. Deena informs Curtis of her career plans during a Vogue photo shoot, but Curtis refuses to let her go. Deena is not the only one chafing under Curtis's control: C.C. is enraged by Curtis's constant rearrangements of his songs, including an emotional ballad, entitled "One Night Only", which Curtis wants instead recorded to reflect the "new sound" he is inventing.
Deena Jones and the Dreams and Jimmy Early perform at a National Democratic fundraiser, on a bill featuring such groups as The Five Tuxedos. While waiting backstage to go on, Jimmy finds himself in another argument with Lorrell as to the nature of their relationship and when, or if, Jimmy will tell his wife about their affair. Lorrell is in tears as Jimmy takes to the stage to perform, and turns to Deena for support. As Jimmy pleads to Lorrell through his music, Deena tries to help Lorrell successfully resolve her situation, and Jackie convinces the artisticallray frustrated C.C. to go find his sister and reconcile with her. Midway through "I Meant You No Harm", Jimmy falls apart and decides that he "can't sing any more sad songs." Desperate to keep his set going, Jimmy launches into a wild, improvised funk number, dropping his pants during the performance. An embarrassed Curtis fires Jimmy as soon as his set concludes. Lorrell ends her affair with Jimmy as well. The heartbroken Jimmy fades into obscurity, refusing to "beg" for Curtis' help.
Marty arranges for C.C. to meet and reconcile with Effie at a recording studio. C.C. apologizes for his role in handicapping her career, and Effie records C.C.'s "One Night Only" in its original ballad format. "One Night Only" begins climbing the charts, causing an enraged Curtis not only to rush-release Deena and the Dreams' version, but to use massive amounts of payola to push Deena's version up the charts and Effie's version down. Effie, C.C., and Marty discover Curtis's scheme and confront him backstage at a Dreams concert, threatening legal action. As Curtis makes arrangements with Effie's lawyer to reverse his wrongdoings, Effie and Deena reconcile, and Deena learns that Effie's daughter Magic is Curtis's child. Realizing what kind of a man Curtis really is, Deena finally finds the courage to leave him and live her own life. Effie's "One Night Only" becomes a number-one hit, as the Dreams break up so that Deena can pursue her movie career. For the final number of the Dreams' farewell concert, Effie rejoins the group on stage, and all four Dreams sing their signature song one last time.
- Act I
- "I'm Lookin' for Something" – The Stepp Sisters, Marty and Company
- "Goin' Downtown" – Little Albert & 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., and Marty, Effie, Deena and Lorrell
- "Cadillac Car (On 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, Lorrell, Curtis and Deena
- "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 Jackie
- "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" – Effie
- "Love Love You Baby" – Deena, Lorrell and Jackie
- Act II
- "Act II Opening" 1 – Deena, Lorrell, Jackie, Curtis, C.C. and Jimmy
- "I Am Changing" – Effie
- "One More Picture Please" – Company, Lorrell, Jackie, C.C. and Curtis
- "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., Jackie and Jimmy
- "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, Jackie, Curtis and Company
- "I'm Somebody" – Deena, Lorrell and Jackie
- "Chicago/Faith in Myself" – Effie, C.C., Curtis, Deena and Marty
- "Listen" 2 – Deena and Effie
- "Hard to Say Goodbye, My Love" – Deena, Lorrell and Jackie
- "Dreamgirls" (Reprise) – Effie, Deena, Lorrell and Jackie