A sweeping and inspirational journey through 20th century American popular music, DREAMGIRLS chronicles one Motown group’s rise from obscurity to superstardom. Through gospel, R&B, smooth pop, disco and more, DREAMGIRLS explores themes of ambition, hope and betrayal, all set in the glamorous and competitive world of the entertainment industry.

“DREAMGIRLS is a show about a time in American musical history when rhythm and blues blended with other styles of popular music creating a new American sound. Act One is set in the fabulous sixties — a time when we were still screaming at Elvis and listening to the Beatles, but were dancing to the new beat of countless girl and boy groups like The Supremes, The Marvelettes, The Temptations and The Shirelles. Act Two shows the creation and the arrival of disco, though the word is never used in the script. The subject matter of this play deals with a musical contribution to America of such importance that only now — decades later — are we beginning to understand.”

-Michael Bennett

Music samples provided courtesy of Decca Broadway

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Materials
  • Cast
  • History
  • Musical Numbers
  • Upcoming
  • Act I

    In 1962, at the world-famous Apollo Theatre in New York City, The Dreamettes arrive late for a talent contest that they hope will launch their R&B career. The trio, featuring the large and powerful lead singer Effie White backed up by slender Deena and sassy Lorrell, is accompanied by Effie’s brother C.C., who writes all their material. Smooth-talking businessman Curtis Taylor manipulates the contest, and The Dreamettes do not win the trophy. Instead, Curtis becomes the group’s manager, and he negotiates a job for the girls as backup singers for gospel star Jimmy Early.

    Jimmy and The Dreamettes begin touring, and they soon record their first song, “Cadillac Car,” written by C.C. But the song is also recorded and popularized by a white group in a bland pop style. The girls, C.C., Curtis, and Jimmy’s agent Marty are all outraged. Curtis vows that the group will not be taken advantage of again (Steppin’ to the Bad Side“).

    Curtis books Jimmy and The Dreamettes as the first black act to appear in Miami Beach, and everyone is elated. Meanwhile, Curtis begins a relationship with Effie, primarily to manipulate the fortunes of the group, and Jimmy – despite being married – begins a relationship with Lorrell.

    Seeking a wider audience, Curtis promotes the girls as their own act, The Dreams. But first, Curtis decides to replace lead singer Effie with Deena, whom he believes has the ‘look’ of success. Effie, embittered by this betrayal, resists singing backup, and C.C. and the group try unsuccessfully to comfort her (“Family”). Meanwhile Jimmy, enticed by Curtis’ aggressive management style, leaves his agent, Marty.

    The Dreams, now led by Deena, find greater success (“Dreamgirls”). Privately, however, relationships within the group continue to deteriorate. Effie’s behavior and appearance further decline, and tempers flare (“It’s All Over”). Curtis is forced to replace Effie with Michelle, and Effie’s pain and frustration finally spill over (“And I’m Tellin’ You I’m Not Going”). The new trio, redubbed Deena Jones and The Dreams, headlines at the Las Vegas Hilton, and their future appears bright.

    Act II

    Five years later, Deena and The Dreams are at the pinnacle of their career. Effie, on the other hand, struggles to pull herself together. With Marty now acting as her agent, Effie auditions for a job in a Chicago club (“I Am Changing”).

    Tensions continue to escalate with Deena and The Dreams; C.C. and Curtis have serious artistic differences over C.C.’s new song “One Night Only,” and Deena intends to pursue a movie career, much to Curtis’ dismay (“When I First Saw You”). With Jimmy’s career in a deep decline, Lorrell finally leaves him, bitterly noting that after seven years, Jimmy never did divorce his wife (“Ain’t No Party”).

    Back in Chicago, C.C. apologizes to his sister for deserting her, and they reconcile (“I Miss You, Old Friend”). He offers her the song “One Night Only,” and Effie’s recording of the song moves toward the top of the charts. Curtis, incensed that Effie would challenge the Dreams’ disco version of “One Night Only,” uses his influence to undercut Effie’s version. But Marty uncovers Curtis’ illegal business practices, and Deena finally leaves Curtis. After years of bitterness, Effie and Deena reunite. The Dreams present a farewell concert (“Hard To Say Goodbye, My Love”) and just before the curtain closes, they invite Effie on stage for one final performance of their signature song, “Dreamgirls.”

    Book and Lyrics by                Music by
    Tom Eyen                     Henry Krieger
    Original Broadway Production Directed and Choreographed by
    Michael Bennett
    Orchestrations by Harold Wheeler
    Produced on Broadway by
    Michael Bennett, Robert Avian, Geffen Records and
    The Shubert Organization

    Such credits for all purposes shall be in a type size equal to that of any other credits except for those of the stars billed above the title. Credits for Messrs. Bennett, Eyen and Krieger and the Broadway producers shall be in a type, size and prominence at least 50 percent of the larger of that used for the title or stars of the play and that the Broadway producer credit will appear in final position on the billing page.

    The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:

    is presented by arrangement with
    Tams-Witmark, A Concord Theatricals Company

    Additionally, you agree to include the above language hyperlinked to https://tamswitmark.com/ on all websites on which you promote the play.

  • Full Orchestration

    1 Reed I: Alto Saxophone, Piccolo & Flute
    1 Reed II: Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Oboe & English Horn
    1 Reed III: Baritone Saxophone, Flute & Bass Clarinet

    2 Trumpet I & II (both double on Flugelhorn)
    1 Trumpet III (doubles Flugelhorn)
    1 Trombone I (Tenor Trombone)
    1 Trombone II (Tenor Trombone with Bass attachment)

    1 Bass (electric)

    1 Guitar

    1 Synthesizer (“string” sounds only)
    1 Piano: Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano (Fender Rhodes) & Synthesizer (Prophet)
    1 Percussion: (Mallet instruments)

    Timpani (2 Pedal Drums)
    Bongo Drums
    Conga Drum(s)
    Cow Bell (for Conductor)
    Triangle (2 Sizes)
    Bell Tree
    Cymbals – Suspended
    Shaker (2 Sizes)
    “Cute Toys”:
    Temple Block
    Wood Block
    Tambourine & Triangle

    1 Drums: (Trap Set)

    Bass Drum
    Snare Drum
    Tom Tom (2 Sizes)
    Floor Tom Tom
    Bongo Drums
    Cymbals: Hi-Hat
    “suspended” (several)
    Roll with “swell”

    Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.

  • Rehearsal Materials

    2       Piano/Conductor Scores
    20     Libretto/Vocal Books

  • Principals

    (4 female; 4 male)

    Effie Melody White — lead singer of the Dreamettes
    Deena Jones — backup singer of the Dreamettes; later lead singer
    Lorrell Robinson — backup singer of the Dreamettes
    Michelle Morris — backup singer; replacement for Effie
    Jimmy (James Thunder) Early — principal soul singer
    C.C. (Clarence Conrad) White — composer and brother of Effie
    Curtis Taylor, Jr. — Cadillac dealer and manager of the Dreams
    Marty — theatrical agent for J.T. Early


    Stepp Sisters — four girl singers; non-speaking
    Charlene — backup singer for J.T. Early
    Joann — backup singer for J.T. Early
    M.C. — master of ceremonies, Apollo Theatre
    Tiny Joe Dixon — winning talent contest singer; non-speaking
    Little Albert & The Tru-Tones — male quintet; non-speaking
    Band (The James Early Band) — six male singers; non-speaking
    Wayne — record producer/director
    Dave — solo tenor; non-speaking
    Sweethearts — two girl backup singers; non-speaking
    Frank — press agent
    Jerry Norman — nightclub owner
    Carl — nightclub pianist; non-speaking
    Five Tuxedos — male quintet; non-speaking
    Les Styles — girls’ backup quartet; non-speaking
    Edna Burke — applause meter reader; non-speaking
    Dwight — TV studio director
    Stage Manager — TV studio
    Brian — pit orchestra drummer; non-speaking
    Mr. Morgan — Effie’s lawyer
    Security Guard — backstage, Chicago


    Chorus Men & Women
    Party Guests
    Film Executives

    The original Broadway production had a cast of 32 performers, including chorus. Some doubling was employed in the minor parts.

  • DREAMGIRLS opened on Broadway on December 20, 1981 at the Imperial Theatre, where it played for 1521 performances. The original cast included Jennifer Holliday, Loretta Devine, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Ben Harney. In 1987, a Broadway revival starring Lillias White ran for 177 performances at the Ambassador Theatre.

    Awards (1982)

    6 Tony Awards for Book, Choreography, Lighting Design, Actor, Actress and Featured Actor
    4 Drama Desk Awards for Set Design, Lighting Design, Actress and Featured Actor
    The Theatre World Award (Jennifer Holliday)

  • Act I

    1. “I’m Looking For Something, Baby” – Stepp Sisters, Charlene, Joann, Marty, Curtis. Little Albert & The Tru Tones, C.C., Effie, Deena, & Lorrell
    2. “Tiny Joe Dixon” – Tiny Joe Dixon
    3. “Move (You’re Steppin’ On My Heart)” – Effie, Deena, & Lorrell
    3a. Transition To Fake Your Way – Chorus
    4. “Fake Your Way To The Top” – Jimmy, Effie, Deena, & Lorrell
    5. “Cadillac Car (Aria)” – Curtis, C.C., Jimmy, Marty & The Band
    6. “On The Road/Cadillac Car” – C.C., Jimmy, Marty, Effie, Deena, Lorrell, & Ensemble
    7. “Movin’ Out/Recording Studio” – Jimmy, Effie, Deena, Lorrell, & Ensemble
    8. “Cadillac Car” – A La Pat Boone – Dave & Sweethearts & Offstage Voices
    9. “Steppin’ To The Bad Side” – Curtis, C.C., Jimmy Effie, Lorrell, & Ensemble
    10. “Party-Party” – Curtis, C.C., Jimmy, Effie, Lorrell, & Ensemble
    11. “Baby-Baby” – Jimmy, Effie, Deena, Lorrell, & Ensemble
    12. “Family” – Jimmy, C.C., Curtis, Effie, Deena, & Lorrell
    12a. Show Biz Transition – Ensemble
    13. “Dreamgirls” – Deena, Effie, & Lorrell
    13a. “Reporters” – Deena, Effie, Lorrell, & Ensemble
    14. “Heavy” – Curtis, Deena, Effie, & Lorrell
    15. “Walkin’ Down The Strip” – Jimmy
    16. “It’s All Over” – Curtis, C.C., Jimmy, Effie, Deena, Lorrell, & Michelle
    17. “(And I’m Telling You) I’m Not Going” – Effie, Deena, Lorrell, Michelle, & Ensemble

    Act II

    18. Opening Act Two/Reprise: Dreamgirls – Jimmy, Deena, Lorrell, Michelle, Curtis, & Ensemble
    18a. Scene Change – Orchestra
    19. “I Am Changing” – Effie
    20. “I Am Changing” – Vogue – Curtis, C.C., Effie, Deena, Lorrell, Michelle, & Ensemble
    21. Vogue Transition To Dreams – Orchestra
    22. “You Are My Dream” – Curtis & Deena
    23. “Ain’t No Party” – Jimmy, Lorrell, & Tuxedos
    24. “I Meant You No Harm” – Jimmy, C.C., Deena, Lorrell, & Michelle
    25. “Rap” – Jimmy, Frank, Curtis, Lorrell, & Ensemble
    26. “I Miss You, Old Friend” – Marty, C.C., Effie, & Les Styles
    27. “One Night Only (Disco)” – Curtis, Deena, Lorrell, Michelle, & Ensemble
    28. “Chicago” – C.C., Marty, Mr. Morgan, Curtis, Effie, Deena, Lorrell, & Michelle
    29. “Hard To Say Goodbye, (My Love)” – Curtis, Deena, Lorrell, Michelle, Effie
    30. Dreamgirls Bows – Orchestra
    31. Bows (Exit Music) – Orchestra

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

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    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    Florence Little Theatre Florence, SC 01/24/2020 02/01/2020
    Shadow Creek High School Pearland, TX 01/31/2020 02/01/2020
    Musical Theatre Southwest Albuquerque, NM 02/06/2020 02/23/2020
    Tyler Civic Theatre Tyler, TX 02/14/2020 02/23/2020
    Franklin High School Somerset, NJ 03/21/2020 03/30/2020
    Mill Mountain Theatre Roanoke, VA 03/25/2020 04/11/2020
    Charles H. Flowers High School Springdale, MD 04/16/2020 05/01/2020
    Amos P. Godby High School Tallahassee, FL 04/17/2020 04/19/2020
    Altarena Playhouse Alameda, CA 05/22/2020 06/28/2020
    Theatre Charlotte Charlotte, NC 05/22/2020 06/07/2020
    Chattanooga Theatre Centre Chattanooga, TN 05/29/2020 06/21/2020
    Rock Valley College Rockford, IL 06/18/2020 07/27/2020