Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 11

| 1

This publication is based on the work of Dreamgirls with book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, music by
Henry Kreiger, and direction and choreography by Michael Bennett. The content of the Dreamgirls edition of
StageNOTES: A Field Guide for Teachers is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of
America and all other countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights regarding
publishing, reprint permissions, public readings, and mechanical or electronic reproduction, including but not limited
to, CD-ROM, information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign
languages are strictly reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, May, 2010
Look for the Original Broadway Cast Recording on Decca U.S.
For more information on StageNOTES and other theater arts related programs for students, contact:
Camp Broadway LLC

336 West 37th Street, Suite 460
New York, NY 10018
Telephone: (212) 575-2929

Facsimile: (212) 575-3125

Email: info@campbroadway.com
2010, Camp Broadway LLC

All rights reserved

| 3


reamgirls opens as the 1962 talent contest is getting underway

at New York Citys renowned Apollo Theatre. Backstage,
however, sheer chaos reigns. James Thunder Earlys back
up vocalists have decided to walk out on him, forcing
Jimmys manager, Marty, to anxiously look for replacements.
Meanwhile, the musical trio, The Dreamettes, comprised of Deena,
Effie and Lorrell arrive late at the theater, and the M.C. informs them
that they have lost their spot. But Curtis, a smooth-talking used-car
dealer, persuades the M.C. to allow the girls to perform their act.
The Dreamettes perform, and although they harbor dreams of instant
fame and stardom, they end up losing the contest. Curtis attempts
to cushion their loss by explaining that breaking into show business
involves hard work and perseverance. After taming Effies diva
attitude (She resolutely states: Im not singing behind anybody)
and warning her of the difficulty of going into the brutal world of
show business alone, Curtis persuades the Dreamettes to take him
on as their manager. His first act as manager: he gets them hired as Jimmys backup singers tonight and
during his ten week tour.
As the Dreamettes and Jimmy Early begin working together, Dreamgirls details the conflicts that these performers
face both from the world outside and from within their own group. C.C., Effies brother, writes a song for Jimmy and
the Dreamettes to perform called Cadillac Car. The song initially does well on the charts, but ends up getting more
attention when it is covered by white artists. (At the time, this was a common occurrence: songs originated by black
artists only got significant radio air time if they were sung by white artists. Stations would play Hound Dog sung by
Elvis Presley while they wouldnt play the same song sung by Big Mama Thornton.)

4 |

Curtis decides to fight back by using payola paying DJs to play Jimmy and the Dreamettes next song, Steppin
to the Bad Side. The song becomes a hit, motivating Curtis to aim higher and higher. He arranges for Jimmy to
play at the Atlantic Hotel in Miami, making Jimmy the first African American singer to perform there. Next, Curtis
announces that he is bringing the giving the Dreamettes their own act (and changing their name to The Dreams.)
However, success comes with a price. Curtis explains that Deena will sing lead because, while she has a smaller voice
than Effie, she is more traditionally attractive and will be more likely to appeal to audiences. Although he attempts to
explain that its nothing personal, the decision leaves Effie feeling hurt and offended; she only reluctantly agrees to
the arrangement after C.C. makes grand promises, claiming that her submission will pave the way to greater successes
for the group. Curtis insistence on success at any cost also stirs up anger and resentment from the more ethical Marty,
finally causing him to leave Jimmy.
Tensions continue to grow within the group. Lorrell
idealistically leapt into a relationship with Jimmy, believing
that love was all that truly mattered. But she begins to realize
there are consequences to carrying on an affair with a married
man. And as Curtis (who is in a relationship with Effie)
begins to pay more and more attention to Deena, pushing
her into the spotlight, Effie reacts by hurling insults at Deena.
Finally, just before a show in Las Vegas, Effie abruptly finds
out that she has been replaced by a new singer: Michelle
Morris. The Dreams, C.C. and Curtis all inform Effie that
she is no longer welcome in the group.

...Dreamgirls details
the conflicts that these
performers face both
from the world outside
and from within their
own group.

As Dreamgirls continues, Effie and the others each struggle to overcome blindness and denial and to do what is right for
themselves and for others. Effie learns to change her attitude; success requires not only talent but hard work. Likewise,
Lorrell and Deena learn to take control of their own lives. Lorrell learns not to keep waiting for Jimmy to leave his wife.
Deena battles Curtiss attempts to turn her into a product, and stands up for her own dreams of acting in important
films. C.C., too, must overcome long years of denial, and apologize to Effie for turning against her.
After Jimmy pushes the bounds of propriety too far during a concert performance, Curtis fires him. C.C., too, breaks
away, leaving Curtis and reuniting with Effie. She sings C.C.s song, One Night Only, and the song seems as if it will
be Effies big break. However, Curtis immediately attempts to have the Dreams cover the song, stealing the spotlight from
Effie. Marty, Effie and C.C. react to this by coming to Curtis and threatening that they will take legal action against him.
Deena and Effie begin speaking to one another again. Effie joins the other Dreams onstage for their last performance at
their farewell concert.

| 5

The Dreams
and the


reamgirls was inspired by the

story of the Supremes, one of
the most popular musical groups
in the 1960s. The Supremes
became known not only for their
music, but also for their glamorous, polished image.

gave in. He wanted the group to have a new name, and

gave Florence Ballard (who was generally acknowledged
as the trios leader) a list of names to pick from. The list
included names like The Darleens The Sweet Ps
The Melodees and The Jewelettes. She chose The

Singers Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard met at a

talent contest while they were students in high school.
Both were residents of the Brewster housing project in
Detroit, Michigan. They recruited two other girls to
become part of the group Barbara Martin and Diane
Ross (who would only later change her name to Diana.)
The group was originally known as The Primettes
(because they performed as a little sister act with
the group The Primes, later known as The

Berry Gordys sister Gwen had attended a finishing

school run by a woman named Maxine Powell. Gwen
encouraged her brother to send his singers to Powell to
acquire a more polished style.

They would perform at contests

and amateur shows (although
each of the girls occasionally
had to drop out for a
while, if their parents
felt their grades were
Berry Gordy, the record
producer who founded the
famous Motown label, had
a recording studio in a house
at 2648 West Grand Boulevard
known as Hitsville. The girls
(now just the trio of Wells, Ballard
and Ross) hung around the studio hoping
to be noticed. They did anything from help clean the
offices to pitch in as additional background singers or
adding hand-claps on a recording. Berry Gordy thought
they were too young to become a group but finally he

6 |

Maxine Powell taught the Supremes (and other

Motown artists) how to present themselves onstage and
in public. They worked on posture, movement, and
dressing with style, as well as how to enter a room,
and talk with reporters and fans.
The Supremes style dressed alike
in glamorous wigs and gowns
made them stand out from other
groups. Maxine Powell told
them they should act as if they
were performing in front of
kings and queens. This selfconfident elegance was a large
part of the groups growing
After a slow start, The Supremes
had five number one hits in a row
starting in 1963-64: Where Did Our
Love Go, Baby Love, Come See About
Me Stop! In The Name of Love and Back In
My Arms Again. By 1965 they were one of the most
popular musical groups in the world second only to
the Beatles.

Berry Gordy and Diana Ross began

a romantic relationship, leading
to Gordy singling Ross out as
the star of the group in
1967 they became known
as Diana Ross and The
Supremes. Florence Ballard
did not take the changes
very well. Frustrated and
angry, she would miss
rehearsals and performances,
or show up to recording
sessions under the influence of
alcohol. Finally, Gordy replaced her
with another singer, Cindy Birdsong (who
had been one of Patti LaBelles backup singers.)
The groups popularity began to decline. In 1970, they
gave their last performance as Diana Ross and the
Supremes: Jean Terrell joined the group to replace
Diana Ross, who left to pursue a solo career.

Florence Ballard had a short run as a solo artist, but

soon left the music business. Struggling with
ill health and financial problems, she died
in 1976. The Supremes had a few more
hits after Diana Rosss departure, but
eventually disbanded in 1977.
In 1981, Broadway director and
choreographer Michael Bennett created
Dreamgirls (written by composer Henry
Krieger and bookwriter-lyricist Tom
Eyen.) The show incorporated elements of
the story of The Supremes as well as other
Motown acts such as The Shirelles, Jackie Wilson
and James Brown. It was a smash success, winning
six Tony Awards and running for almost four years on
In 2006, a film version was released, starring Beyonc
Knowles and Jennifer Hudson, who subsequently won
an Academy Award for her performance.

Supreme Confidence:
Maxine Powell
When I was young I came to realize how
people were all born and conceived in the
same manner; that since all children helpless
and innocent at birth, their differences are
determined by their upbringing, not color.
Born in Texas in 1924 and raised in Chicago,
Maxine Powell trained as an actress and model.
She moved to Detroit in 1948, opening her own
modeling and finishing school by 1951. She was
a successful entrepreneur, convincing Detroits
car manufacturers to hire African-American
models for their car shows and advertising.
She became friendly with Berry Gordy, but was
concerned that his singers were coming off
as rude and crude. She began giving advice
to performers on how to improve their image;
eventually she joined Motown as the official
style consultant.
Powell made the Supremes first stage
costumes out of items she bought on sale at
department stores. She spent hours each day

with the singers,

telling them
that they were
being trained
for two places:
the White House
and Buckingham
I taught positive
change through body
language and word power. I told these young
artists that they were not the best singers and
dancers in the world, that our race has always
had great performers. My job was to keep them
from going on an ego tripto remind them that
each performance was a dress rehearsal. My
guiding principle is that humanitys diversity is
similar to a vast bouquet of flowers: that each
individual, regardless of size, shape, or color,
possesses unique qualities of beauty, truth, and

| 7

Supreme Voice,
Supreme Loss

n Dreamgirls, the character of Effie White is

based on Florence Ballard, an original member
of The Supremes who was fired from the group.
The musical draws on many episodes from her
tumultuous, tragic career in its telling of the fictional
journey of Effie White.
When The Supremes signed with Motown Records in
1961, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence, or Flo,
Ballard all shared equal time singing lead vocals. During
recording sessions, Flo, whose voice was considerably
more powerful than Diana and Marys, would have to
stand up to seventeen feet away from her microphone.
In Dreamgirls, Effie sings in a strong, gospel-influenced
vocal style, while Deena, the Diana Ross character, sings
in a lighter, smoother pop style.

Dreamgirls dramatizes the emergence of Diana Ross

as the lead singer of The Supremes. In 1963, she took
over singing all lead vocals on their records, a decision
made by record producer Berry Gordy (who inspired
the character Curtis in the musical). Although Diana
Ross was the lead singer, when the Supremes sang live

Effies powerful anthem,

sung at the end of the first act,
And I Am Telling You Im Not Going,
mirrors a real life argument between Flo
and Berry Gordy. In 1966, when rumors
were circulating that Diana Ross wanted
to go solo, Flo remembered saying, If
she wants to be on her own, then thats
okay with me. But I aint leaving the
grouphe told me You can leave the
group any time, but I told
him I aint leaving.

8 |

in concert, Florence had a featured solo: People from

the musical Funny Girl. One night, Flo complaining of
a sore throat, asked Diana to sing the number. Berry
Gordy insisted Diana sing the song from then on,
angering Flo who already felt neglected and pushed to
the background. As The Supremes became more and
more famous, so did Diana, and Flos feelings of being
shoved out of the spotlight began to consume her life.
Berry Gordy changed the name of the group to Diana
Ross and The Supremes. Instead of leaving the group,
Florence acted out. She began drinking, gained a
substantial amount of weight and started abusing
diet pills and anti-depressants. She would come to
rehearsals, recording sessions, and even concerts under
the influence of alcohol. She acted out in performance,
ad-libbing off-color remarks during songs and on-stage
banter. Her fear and resentment towards Gordy drove
her to make threats that she would uncover his illegal
business practices revealing embarrassing information
she claimed to know about Gordys Motown Records
financial history.
Flo was forced out of The Supremes in 1967; she was
given a settlement of $139,000 toward future royalties
(which was subsequently embezzled by her lawyers).

She was left in poverty raising three daughters after her

money ran out and her husband abandoned her. By
1974, Flo was living on welfare in the housing project
she had spent her youth trying to escape. She was
consumed by depression, alcoholism, and the fear that
everywhere she went, people might recognize and judge
her. She was so self-conscious about being recognized
that she would face away from the street when waiting
for the public bus, and wore large sunglasses and hoods
everywhere she went.
In 1975, Flo received a $50,000 settlement check
from a suit she had filed against her former lawyers
for mishandling and embezzling her original contract
settlement with Motown Records. After a visit to her
(still) friend Mary Wilson, Flo made a stage appearance
with the now Diana Ross-less Supremes (although she
didnt sing but only played the tambourine. ) Bolstered
by new confidence, Florence made the decision
to start singing again. She returned to the stage in
1975, performing at Detroits Henry and Edsel Ford
Auditorium at a concert for the Joan Little Defense
League. The performance was a success and lead to
offers and requests for interviews from newspapers and
television shows.

Flos feelings of being

shoved out of the spotlight
began to consume her life.
In Dreamgirls, Effie is expelled from The Dreams,
but later makes a comeback and reconciles with her
estranged brother, C.C. She makes amends with Deena
and Lorrell, and is successful in suing Curtis for his
underhanded treatment of her, threatening to uncover
his illegal beginnings. In early versions of the musical,
Effie died at the end of the first act. but changes were
made to make the end of the show, and Effies return to
the stage, more uplifting and optimistic than her reallife counterparts fate. On February 22, 1976, Florence
Ballard died of coronary thrombosis (a blood clot
in one of the coronary arteries). Stevie Wonder, The
Four Tops, and Mary Wilson attended her funeral in
Detroit. So did Diana Rosswho sat in the front pew
of the church holding one of Flos daughters on her lap.

The Supreme Voice


n the early days of her career, Flos voice was

warm, rich, soaring, and vibrantshe could
summon a deep mezzo one minute and a glorious
soprano the next. After her dismissal from The
Supremes, and even after she started piecing her life
back together, Flo never stopped drinking. By the
early 1970s, the effects of years of alcohol showed
on her face, making her look faded and worn.

Alcohol and drug abuse is one

of the leading causes of trauma
to the vocal cords and voice.
Alcohol consumption causes
your body to lose water and
become dehydrated. Without
proper lubrication of the voice, vocal
cords roughly knock together causing hoarseness,
huskiness, pain when speaking, and (if exposed
to long term abuse), permanent damage and scar
tissue. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes
that line the throat exposing the throat to infection
and inflammation.
Proper vocal care can
ensure a strong,
healthy voice:
Drink six to eight glasses of
water a day
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Dont smoke
Avoid spicy foods (and other
foods that cause stomach acid)
Practice good breathing techniques when singing
and talking. It is essential to support your voice
with deep breaths from the diaphragm (the wall
that separates your chest and abdomen), and
avoid taking shallow, throaty breaths because it
puts excessive strain on the voice.

| 9



Download the Future: Artist Management in the 21st Century

CURTIS: You dont need an amateur contest. Theres nothing
amateur about you. What you need is management.

he music industry, especially music

management, has changed more
drastically since the year 2000 than in its
previous one hundred year history. What
started as an industry driven primarily
by large music publishing companies, became, by
the 1950s, controlled chiefly by recording and
distribution companies. But since the year 2000,
there has been another significant shift in the
business which has extensively changed the power
dynamic of the industry.

In the second half of the 20th century, large record

companies bought smaller ones, until by the end of
1990s there were five major labels. These companies,
often referred to as the big five, dominate the
recording industry: Sony Music Entertainment,
Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, EMI,
and BMG (bought by Sony in 2008 leaving the big
four to reign supreme.)
In the past, to become successful, recording artists needed
managers. In the 1960s when the fictitious Dreams were
making it big, the only way for an artist to get their
music to the masses was to go through traditional musicmanagement channels. Without a manager to control
every aspect of their career and promote them to record
companies, an artist wouldnt get very far, and would
almost never become financially successful.
Although the artist/manager relationship is still the
traditional model artists follow, because of new music
technologies and the advent of music sharing and
distribution on the internet, artists in the 21st century

10 |

have a wider range of choices when pursuing a music

career. Stephanie Marie Garcia, a columnist for
Charlottesville, Virginias award-winning newspaper,
The Hook, comments,

Gone are the days of mega-rich labels scouring

the country for the next big thing. Music these
days has gone the DIY route- venues crop up
anywhere (garages, bookstores, porches), while
bands are self-recording, self-promoting, selfmanaging machines.

The Do-It-Yourself route has become almost a

necessity for budding musicians trying to navigate the
increasingly crowded indie (independent) music scene.
Without the constraint of controlling managers and
rights-limiting contracts, artists can centrally distribute
their music to the masses. Some musicians welcome
the ability to distribute their music directly to listeners
via the internet. They are happy to circumvent the
controlling behavior of giant music companies who
may not be.releasing their work or paying them all
the royalties due to them explains Pieracarla Santucci,
a columnist for Associated Content.
While this changing model offers opportunities for
musicians to forego the traditional management model,
resources are still available to those who want help in
managing their careers. In 2007, the Indie Managers
Association founded Artist Management Resource,
as a central point of information and resources for
both artist managers and self-managed artists. Artist
Management Resource has an array of online resources
to aid managers and artists in traversing the changing

music industry landscape. AMCOM, an annual

Artist Management Conference focuses on providing
independent musicians and talented managers with the
resources and networking opportunities.
Beyond the subject of management, many bands are
experimenting with alternative methods of distribution.
Most notably, the band Radiohead set up a pay what
you wish digital download in 2007 for their album
In Rainbows. The band used the free download as
a promotional tool for selling a Deluxe Box Set with
exclusive content not available in the download. They
sold more than 1.2 million downloads and sold out
of the box sets in the process. Although they received
industry criticism, fans embraced the move (now
known as The Radiohead Effect) convincing many
in the business that fans and customers will pay extra
for the special experience of a box set with added
content or a keepsake that makes the consumer feel
personally connected to the band. Other bands have
done similar promotions, focusing less on the sale of
the music, and more on the promotion of an upcoming
concert or tour, and although recorded music sales have
seen significant decline since 2000, the demand for
live concert experiences have seen an unprecedented
Another innovative and controversial way independent
musicians are making waves in the industry is
through the licensing of songs for commercials and
advertisements. Though this is not a new concept,
Bertis Downs, the artist manager and lawyer, whose
only client is the band REM, explains a shift in

We had a kind of a conscious decision early

on not to do anything involving commercials,
endorsements, that kind of stuff. Bands are less
concerned about that kind of stuff now. Arguably,

fan bases are less concerned about it because

people accept it. People compete to get on a
particular commercial ... its just another avenue
for exposure.

What used to be considered selling out in the

industry has become yet another avenue for artists
to get their music heard by mainstream listeners.
According to Trendhunter Magazine, The Apple
commercial trend is becoming very consistent. One
day Apple uses a song in a new commercial, and the
next day, the song instantly flies up the charts selling
downloads like hot cakes. Notable beneficiaries of
this phenomenon are Feist, whose song 1234 became
an overnight sensation after it appeared in an Apple
commercial and New Soul by Yael Naim which
hit #2 on the itunes charts after it aired in an Apple
Macbook commercial in 2008. Kyle Chayka from
Atlantic Magazine offers this advice for up-and-coming

Given that fans are easier to come by than
customers, now is a good time for independent
music to find ways around traditional routes of
music distribution. A young bandcan build buzz
giving away their music for free just as stars can be
made overnight with the help of the mass media.
The key is experimentationinnovation in the
spreading as well as the making of music.

In the musical Dreamgirls, Curtis, the smooth-talking

overcontrolling manager of the Dreams, exemplifies the
need for the industry to change to allow more freedom
for the artist to make decisions about their own destiny.
Now that technology has caught up, what once relied
almost solely on the hierarchy of control has become
a diverse collection of self-sustaining, micro-managing
artists who utilize the changing technological landscape
in their pursuit of their dreams of success.

| 11

Only the Beginning Workshopping Dreamgirls

reamgirls was created through a process known

as a workshop. A workshop is a collaborative,
exploratory process between directors, actors,
designers, choreographers, and writers. In an
informal setting, writers bring in raw material
(a few songs, a scene, or maybe just story ideas) and the
director and actors explore the material with the writers
in order to discover what works dramatically and what

should be rewritten. Over the course of a workshop,

material can be written, rewritten, thrown out, changed,
moved, or any combination. A workshop is not a rehearsal.
It is a chance for the creative team to collaborate on ideas,
see scenes and songs performed and make adjustments, and
receive constructive feedback from each other.
Visionary director-choreographer Michael Bennett is
widely considered to be the inventor of the workshop
process. During the development of the Pulitzer Prize
winning Broadway hit, A Chorus Line, Bennett, who was
the director, choreographer, and conceiver, developed
the workshop as a way to work collaboratively with his
design team. During workshop development of A Chorus
Line, Bennett interviewed thousands of Broadway chorus
members and, through the workshop process, created
the show with his team of songwriters and scriptwriters.
Before this process existed, most shows would go literally

12 |

from the printed script to rehearsal with limited time to

make changes if something didnt work. After the success
of A Chorus Line, Bennett vowed to always use workshops
to develop new work.
In 1980, composer Henry Kreiger and lyricist Tom Eyen
approached Bennett with fourteen songs and ideas for a
show about African-American pop/soul backup singers.
They had previously workshopped the, then titled,
Project 9 for Joe Papp at the Public Theatre, but shelved
the project after its star, Nell Carter, took a job on in
television. Bennett offered to finance a 6-week workshop
in his studio space at 890 Broadway in New York City.
Bennett asked Tom Eyen to direct the newly named, Big
Dreams, and invited members of the original Public
workshop cast including Sheryl Lee Ralph as Deena and
Loretta Devine as Lorrell to reprise their roles. Since Nell
Carter was now appearing on NBCs Gimme A Break,
Bennett cast twenty-year old, unknown gospel/soul
singer Jennifer Holiday in the role of Effie. Holiday quit
and returned to the project three times over the course
of its workshop phase, first because she didnt like that
her character died in the end of the first act, and second
because the role of Effie had been reduced in favor of
expanding the Deena character.

A workshop is a collaborative,
exploratory process between
directors, actors, designers,
choreographers, and writers.
After the first workshop, Michael Bennett took over as
director and over the next year, workshopped the show
five times with varying success. The last workshop brought
back Jennifer Holiday, who returned on the condition that
the writers would develop her character substantially in the
second act. By this time, the show was renamed Dreamgirls,
and over 3 million dollars had been spent on the processa
large portion of the investment shouldered by David Geffen
and Geffen Records as well as the Shubert Organization, a
producing and theatre-owning company.
The plot and all of the major characters went through
extensive changes and rewrites during the workshop

process. In the beginning, the character of Lorrell was

named Lola and at one point, the character of Effie was
to die in the end of the first act (presumably to mirror
the real life tragedy of Supremes singer Florence Ballard).
Over time (and because Jennifer Holiday complained)
the writers later changed their minds and kept Effie to
allow the show to have an optimistic ending.

Choreography, Best Lighting Design, Best Lead Actor

Ben Harney as Curtis, Lead Actress Jennifer Holiday, and
Featured Actor Cleavant Derricks as James Thunder
Early. Jennifer Holiday also won a Grammy for Best
Female Performance for And I Am Telling You Im
Not Going, and her single of the song was #1 on the
Billboard R&B charts in 1982.

Dozens of songs were written and thrown or rewritten

over the course of the workshops. A few songs that
evolved significantly from the workshops to Broadway
include the songs Heavy, Fake Your Way To the Top,
One Night Only, Hard To Say Goodbye, and And
Im Telling You Im Not Going among others.

Dreamgirls ran on Broadway for 1,521 performances,

closing on August 11, 1985. The show went on to tour
the country, returning to Broadway in 1987 starring
Lillias White as Effie White.

In April of 1981, after a year of workshops, the show

began its out-of-town tryout in Boston. On December
20, 1981, Dreamgirls opened on Broadway at the
Imperial Theatre. Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine,
and Jennifer Holliday all reprised their roles from the
workshops. The production was nominated for 13
Tony Awards and won six, including Best Book, Best

Though Michael Bennett would die just a few weeks

after the tour returned to Broadway, his legacy and vision
of a development process that stresses collaboration and
exploration is still widely used in the theatre industry
today. When asked about his workshop approach,
Bennett explained, I just prefer to do things this way.
This is a collaboration. Its about people coming together
in a single mind. I also hate to work alone.

| 13

I Am Changing
Yes! I Know How


Effie rejects the truth that her career with the Dreams
is over. Her outright denial that she has been not only
fired but dumped by her love interest Curtis, reveals
her deep, conflicted nature. She reacts with anger
and desperation, refusing to accept any responsibility
for her failures, and although she sings with force
and strength, the words reveal how vulnerable and
despondent she has become. Like many people faced
with situations they cant accept, Effie is unable to focus
her life and take control.
In the second act, seven years after Effie was kicked
out of the, now famous, Dreams, an old friend, Marty,
gives Effie one last chance to prove she can get her life
under control. Effies old attitudes start to show up, and
Marty calls her out,



Its time you stopped making excuses so you dont
have to prove anything. Youre going to have to
start proving it just like the rest of us. I dont know,
maybe Curtis was right about you. You want all
of the privileges with none of the responsibilities.
Yeah, maybe Curtis was right about you after all.

Only when she realizes the hard truth of the

consequences of her diva attitude, can Effie begin to
change her ways and revive her career.

ne of the core themes of Dreamgirls

is telling the truth. Each character
experiences a transformation that
relates to telling the truth to others,
telling themselves the truth, or
suffering the consequences for lying. Curtis pays for
lying about his dirty business dealings and for keeping
secrets from Deena about stealing Effies comeback
single, One Night Only. Lorrell must tell herself
the truththat Jimmy will never leave his wife for
herand learn to move on, while Deena must finally
stand up to Curtis and insist on following her dream
of becoming an actress. C.C.s unhappiness and
restlessness stems from his self-denial. Only by facing
the fact that he has betrayed Effie, and apologizing for
his actions can C.C. find peace and move on with his

14 |

The most conflicted and complex character in
Dreamgirls is Effie White. Through the musical Effie
comes to understand the importance of telling the
truthto others and also to herself. At the penultimate
moment in the first act, Effie finds out shes been
removed from the Dreams due to her bad behavior
and that her relationship with Curtis is through. Her
response is to deny the truth and refuse to acknowledge
any wrongdoing on her part. She sings,



Marty, Curtis was wrong




I Am Changing is a song about self-evaluation. Effies

transformation at its root embraces accountability and
truth telling. She finally accepts that she has made
mistakes in her life, and that some of the painful
experiences in her past happened as a result of her
selfishness and refusal to take any responsibility for her
actions. She realizes that it was her bad attitude that
contributed to her losing her friends and her spot in
the Dreams. With this realization comes immeasurable
freedom. Effie lets go of her burdensfinally revealing
to Deena that she had a child with Curtis, and asking
Deena for forgiveness for letting Curtis stand in the
way of their friendship.
Throughout the show, each character is held
accountable by the truth. It is only when each accepts
truth into their lives that they are able to mend their
relationship and finally move forward with their

| 15

The Apollo

Where Stars Are Born and Legends Are Made

he Apollo Theater is one of Americas most iconic and lasting cultural

institutions, having the launched the careers of the musical legends Ella
Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The
Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Patti
LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Sarah Vaughan, and
Lauryn Hill among others.
In 1914, the building that would eventually be known as the Apollo Theater was
constructed on 125th street in the heart of Harlem in New York City. Designed
by the architect George M. Keister, who also designed the First Baptist Church
of New York, the building was operated by burlesque producers Jules Hurtig and
Harry Seamon and called Hurtig and Seamons New Burlesque Theatre. Hurtig
and Seamon would operate the building until 1928 when famed burlesque
producer Billy Minsky purchased the theater and renamed it the 125th Street Apollo Theatre. In 1932, when Billy
Minsky died suddenly of a bone disease, producing partners Sydney S. Cohen and Morris Sussman purchased
the Apollo and reopened it in 1934. The most notable change under Cohen and Sussmans ownership was the
inclusion of African-American performers and audience members. When Sydney Cohen died, Sussman partnered
with Frank Schiffman, the owner of the Harlem Opera House, and the two theatres merged to become the only
theatre in New York City to hire African-American talent.
As the Harlem Renaissance hit full swing, the Apollo Theatre became the center of entertainment. In 1934, an
Amateur Night was introduced at the theatre. It was at these amateur nights that many of musics most notable
African-American artists began their careers. At 17, Ella Fitzgerald first performed at Amateur Night winning the
$25 prize. Amateur Night at the Apollo was notorious for having tough, picky audiences who, if not impressed
with a performer, would call on the executioner to literally take a broom and sweep the entertainer off the stage.
Despite its infamous reputation, Amateur Night at the Apollo played a pivotal role in developing emerging artists
and cultivating many musical genres including jazz, swing, R&B, blues, gospel, hip-hop, bebop, and soul.
The Apollo Theater experienced a decline in the 1960s and 1970s, shutting its doors and becoming a movie
theater in 1975. It wasnt until 1983, when Inner City Broadcasting owner and former Manhattan borough
president Percy E. Sutton purchased, and began plans to renovate, the space. It reopened in 1985 after receiving
historical landmark status. Ownership of the Apollo exchanged hands once again in 1991, when it was purchased
by the State of New York.

Lesson Ideas
Dreamgirls Discussion

Objective: Students will explore what it means to

make a commitment and improving a skill.

This business is work. One step at
a time. First you have to start off
humble. Like singing backup for
someone already established.
No! Im not singing behind anybody!
Look, kid, I know youre good and so
do you. Youre talented and youre
beautiful. It takes more than that.
Show business is rough business. Yeah,
its a business. And what do you know
about it?
Curtis persuades Effie, Deena, and Lorrell to sing
backup for Jimmy Early by reminding them that being
in show business takes hard work and commitment.
They cant just expect to become famous overnight
they have to start small and work their way up. Have
you ever been in the situation where you had to work
hard for something that you thought would be easy?
What did you do?

Teaching Tips: What would you have done in

the girls situation? What advice would you give to

someone who was going through a similar thing?

Dreamgirls Writing

Dreamgirls Experiential
Objective: Students will express their goals and

dreams through drawing.

Make a poster of what your dream would look like

when you achieve it. Where would you be? In a
theatre? In a classroom? On the moon? ]

Dreamgirls After Hours

Objective: Students will learn about the career

paths of their chosen role model.

After a multiphase renovation which began in 2005, the Apollo has returned to prominence in the New York
theatrical landscape attracting an estimated 1.3 million visitors a year and launching a New Legends Series
featuring todays hottest musical talents.


Objective: Students will express their goals and

Choose a well-known person you admire. Read about

this persons life. What was his or her first big break?
When did he or she first become known? What did he
or she do to prepare for their career?

In 2009, in celebration of its 75th year, the Apollo Theatre Foundation Inc. took over operation of the theatre.
The star-studded season included the launch of the 2009 national tour of Dreamgirls, the hit Broadway musical
that chronicles the rise of The Dreamettes, a singing trio who get their start at Amateur Night at the Apollo in the
1960s. What was coined in the early days has remained true throughout its enduring legacy: The Apollo Theater
is the place Where Stars are Born and Legends are Made.

What would be your dream for your life? The women

in the show went after their dream. How would you
achieve your dream? How would you encourage those
around you to reach for their dreams? How does
Positive Action help you achieve your dream?

Teaching Tips: What sort of goals do you have

for yourself? Think of ways you might reach your
goalswhat sort of steps do you need to take to get

16 |

| 17


Guide to

Theatergoing Etiquette

n the early part of the nineteenth century, theatrical

performances usually began at six oclock. An evening
would last four or five hours, beginning with a short
curtain raiser, followed by a five act play, with other short
pieces presented during the intermissions. It might be
compared roughly to todays prime time television, a series
of shows designed to pass the time. With no television or
radio, the theater was the only place to find companionship,
light, and warmth on a cold winters evening.
As the century progressed, the theater audience reflected the
changing social climate. More well-to-do patrons still arrived at
six oclock for the full program of the evening, while half-price
admission was offered at eight or eight-thirty to the working
class. This allowed for their longer workday and tighter
budgets. Still, the theaters were always full, allowing people to
escape the drudgery of their daily lives and enjoy themselves.
Because of this popularity, theaters began to be built larger
and larger. New progress in construction allowed balconies
to be built overhanging the seats below in contrast to the
earlier style of receding tiers. This meant that the audience
on the main floor (the section called the orchestra) were
out of the line of sight of the spectators in the galleries. As
a result, the crowds became less busy people-watching and
gossiping among themselves, and more interested in watching

the performance. The theater managers began the practice

of dimming the lights in the seating area (called the house
lights,) focusing the attention of the audience on the stage.
The advent of gas lighting and the limelight (the earliest
spotlights) made the elaborate settings even more attractive to
the eye, gaining the audiences rapt attention.
By the 1850s, the wealthier audiences were no longer looking
for a full evenings entertainment. Curtain time was pushed
back to eight oclock (for the convenience of patrons arriving
from dinner); only one play would be presented, instead of four
or five, freeing the audience for other social activities afterward.
Matinee (afternoon) performances were not given regularly
until the 1870s, allowing society ladies who would not have
ventured out late at night the opportunity to attend the theater.
Now, in the new millennium, many of these traditions
are still with us. The theater is still a place to see and be
seen; eight oclock is still the standard curtain time; and the
excited chatter of the audience falls to a hush when the house
lights dim and the stage lights go up, and another night on
Broadway begins.
You can make sure that everyone you know has the very best
experience at the theater by sharing this Theater Etiquette
with them. And now, enjoy the show!


Being a Good Audience

Kelly, Kevin. One Singular Sensation: The Michael Bennett Story.

Remember, going to the theater isnt like going to a movie. There are some
different rules to keep in mind when youre at a live performance.

George, Nelson. Where Did Our Love Go?: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound.

Believe it or not, the actors can actually hear you. The same acoustics
that make it possible for you to hear the actors means that they can hear
all the noises an audience makes: talking, unwrapping candy, cell phones
ringing. Thats why, when youre at a show, there is no food or drink at your
seats (eat your treats at intermission; save the popcorn-munching for the
No talking (even if youre just explaining the plot to the person next to you)
Always keep cell phones and beepers turned off (This even means no
texting your friends during the show to tell them how great it is...)
Of course, what the actors like to hear is how much youre enjoying the
performance. So go ahead and laugh at the funny parts, clap for the songs,
and save your biggest cheers and applause for your favorite actors at the
curtain call. Thats their proof of a job well done.

18 |

Resources and further reading for

New York: Doubleday, 1990.

University of Illinois Press, 2007.

Wilson, Mary. Dreamgirl & Supreme Faith: My Life As a Supreme.

Cooper Square Press; Updated edition, 2000.

Taraborrelli, Randy J. Diana Ross: An Unauthorized Biography.

Pan Publishing, 2007.

Woll, Allen. Black Musical Theatre: From Coontown to Dreamgirls.

Louisiana State University Press, 1989.

Cruz, Gilbert. A Brief History of Motown. Time Magazine

12 January 2009: Web. 11 May 2010. http://www.time.com/


| 19

A Field Guide for Teachers

A Camp Broadway LLC Publication
Art Director:

Rob Hartmann and Amy Burgess

Kathleen Giarrano

Writers: Amy Burgess: composer/lyricist and

graduate of the New York University
Graduate Musical Theatre Writing
Robert Hartmann: composer/lyricist and
Assistant Professor, New York University
Graduate Musical Theatre Writing
Joan Marcus
Special Thanks: Amy Huang, Taylor Bunn and
Meredith Ford.
Printed by:

Millet the Printer, Inc.