The New York Times Reports: DREAMGIRLS on Living Their Dream at Apollo Theater, Opens 11/22

On Saturday, November 7, Broadway played uptown when Producer John Breglio and the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. launched previews for Dreamgirls at the Apollo Theater, prior to the national tour of the new production of the groundbreaking musical. The Apollo production, which officially opens on Sunday, November 22, will run for 4 weeks only through Sunday December, 6.

And, the New York Times reports, the production delivers on all the glitz and glam one expects from the Dreams.  On the outside. It is still show biz, they reveal, after all, with the same traffic jams, frantic costume changes and continual bumping into props in the narrow wings actors have become accustomed to.  To read the full feature on the new Dreams, and the challenges of producing a Broadway show in the beloved, if not downsized Apollo space, click here.

Dreamgirls is directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom with co-choreography by Shane Sparks, scenic design by Robin Wagner, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Ken Billington, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, and media design by Howard Werner for Lightswitch. With music direction by Sam Davis, orchestrations by Harold Wheeler, and Vocal Arrangements by David Chase & Cleavant Derricks, Dreamgirls is produced by John Breglio for Vienna Waits Productions in association with Chunsoo Shin, Jake Productions & Broadway Across America/TBS.

This brand-new production will incorporate a duet version of the Academy Award-nominated song "Listen" which was written for the film Dreamgirls, as well as a new Act Two-opener, "What Love Can Do" written for this new stage production. Both musical numbers are composed by Henry Krieger with lyrics by Willy Reale.

Dreamgirls will introduce Moya Angela as Effie White and feature, as The Dreams, Syesha Mercado as Deena Jones, Adrienne Warren as Lorrell Robinson, and Margaret Hoffman as Michelle Morris with Chaz Lamar Shepherd as Curtis Taylor, Jr., Chester Gregory is James "Thunder" Early, Trevon Davis as C.C. White, Milton Craig Nealy as Marty Madison in a cast of 26 that also features Felicia Boswell, Tallia Brinson, Patrice Covington, Ronald Duncan, Talitha Farrow, Brittney Griffin, James Harkness, Robert Hartwell, Eric Jackson, Chauncey Jenkins, Jared Joseph, Nikki Kimbrough, Brittany Lewis, Douglas Lyons, Kimberly Marable, Jarran Muse, Amaker Smith and Marc Spaulding.

Following the Apollo Theater engagement, the national tour of Dreamgirls will play Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, Columbus, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Costa Mesa, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and more.  Tickets for the Apollo engagement can be purchased at apollotheater.org or by visiting ticketmaster.com.  For more information on the tour, visit www.dreamgirlsonstage.com.

Dreamgirls tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960's girl group from Chicago, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. The original Broadway production of Dreamgirls opened December 20, 1981 at the Imperial Theatre and won six 1982 Tony Awards. Dreamgirls closed on Broadway August 11, 1985, after 1,522 performances. Dreamgirls features music by Academy Award nominee Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy-Award winner Tom Eyen. The original Broadway production was directed by Michael Bennett and choreographed by Bennett and Michael Peters. Dreamgirls was adapted into a motion picture by DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, and opened in December 2006.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary season in 2009-2010, the legendary Apollo Theater has been a driving force in shaping America's music and cultural landscape and has played a major role in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul and hip-hop. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo's stage. A distinctly American landmark, it is the one of the only institutions in the nation equally devoted to showcasing both emerging talent and legendary performers on the same stage, thereby creating an exceptional community of musicians and artists. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Apollo Theater Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1991, is dedicated to the preservation and development of the Apollo Theater. The Apollo's mission is to honor the influence and advance the contributions of African-American artists and advance emerging creative voices across cultures and artistic media through the Apollo Experience of world-class live performances and educational programs. The Apollo is located in the heart of Harlem at 253 West 125 Street, between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (7th Ave.) and Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Ave.). For further information visit www.apollotheater.org.

Robert Longbottom (Director/ Choreographer) made his Broadway debut as Director/Choreographer on Side Show, which earned four Tony Award® nominations including Best Musical. Other theatrical highlights include the Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song (Tony, Astaire & Outer Critics Circle nomination); The Scarlet Pimpernel; the Off-Broadway hit Pageant; Disney's On The Record and The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. At the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., he directed the wartime classic Mister Roberts and most recently returned to direct and choreograph the musical Carnival. Robert also directed Hay Fever for The Old Globe Theater. Current projects include the first Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie for the Roundabout Theater Company, as well as the national tour of Dreamgirls following this engagement at the Apollo Theater.

Tom Eyen (Book and Lyrics) wrote the book and lyrics for the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which he won both the 1982 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Book of a Musical. Eyen was a pioneer of the Off-Off Broadway theater movement in the ‘60s and a prolific experimental playwright. His first commercial success came in 1970 with his satirical comedy The Dirtiest Show in Town. Other plays include Why Hannah's Skirt Won't Stay Down, Sarah B. Divine! and Women Behind Bars. He died May 29, 1991.

Henry Krieger (Composer) began composing for Off-Off Broadway in his twenties, a venue that led to his meeting with playwright-lyricist Tom Eyen. Together with director-choreographer Michael Bennett, they created the long-running Broadway hit musical Dreamgirls, which opened at the Imperial Theatre on December 20, 1981. Dreamgirls won six Tony Awards, and Mr. Krieger was nominated for his now legendary score for which he won the Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. Dreamgirls generated new success with new audiences as a Dreamworks film directed by Bill Condon. His most recent Broadway musical, Side Show directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom (book and lyrics by Bill Russell), opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in November 1997. Side Show received four Tony nominations, including Best Score. Mr. Krieger is delighted to be reunited with Mr. Longbottom on his wonderful new production of Dreamgirls!

Willie Reale (Additional Material). With his friend Henry Krieger, Willie wrote the song "Patience" for the film Dreamgirls (Oscar nomination). He wrote A Year with Frog and Toad and received a Tony nomination for the book and for the score (with his brother, composer Robert Reale). He is the founder of The 52nd Street Project, which he directed for 18 years. Mr. Reale has written a good deal of television drama and recently served as head writer/producer for the reinvention of The Electric Company currently on PBS. His latest musical, written with his brother and playwright Richard Dresser, will premier at A.R.T. in Boston in May 2010.

Michael Bennett (Conception, Original Director / Choreographer) choreographed Promises, Promises; Coco; Company; Follies (which he co-directed with Hal Prince); and Seasaw (which he also wrote and directed). In 1973 he made his debut as a dramatic director with Twigs, which starred Sada Thompson. A Chorus Line, which he conceived, choreographed and directed, won nine Tony Awards. In 1976 he and the other authors of A Chorus Line were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama. In 1979 he produced, directed and choreographed Ballroom, which was nominated for eight Tony Awards and won Mr. Bennett his sixth Tony. He won his seventh Tony Award for 1981's Dreamgirls and directed its 1985 Broadway revival. The film adaptation of Dreamgirls was released in December 2006.

Shane Sparks (Co-Choreographer) is one of the most talented and sought after choreographers working in the entertainment industry today. Shane puts his heart into every dance step and that has translated into some of the most memorable dance performances of the last decade earning Shane an Emmy nomination and a spot on two of the most popular dance shows on television. Currently, Shane continues to star as a choreographer on the fifth season of the hit FOX TV show "So You Think You Can Dance" and has been seen judging the top crews each week on the last three seasons of the MTV smash hit "America's Best Dance Crew." Shane is excited to be a part of the Dreamgirls production.

Robin Wagner (Scenic Design). Broadway designs include: Dreamgirls (South Korea); A Chorus Line (Revival); Young Frankenstein; The Producers; The Boy From Oz; Kiss Me, Kate; Saturday Night Fever; Side Show; Angels in America; Victor/Victoria; Jelly's Last Jam; Crazy for You; Jerome Robbins' Broadway; Chess; 42nd Street; Dreamgirls; On the Twentieth Century; A Chorus Line; Jesus Christ Superstar; Lenny; Promises, Promises; The Great White Hope; and Hair. Operas: Metropolitan, Swedish Royal, Vienna State, Royal Opera Covent Garden. Honors: Tonys, Drama Desks, Outer Critics Circles, and others. He is a trustee of the Public Theater and a member of the Theater Hall of Fame.

William Ivey Long (Costume Design). New York credits include: 9 to 5, Pal Joey, Young Frankenstein, Grey Gardens, The Boy from Oz, Hairspray, The Producers, The Music Man, Contact, Swing, Cabaret, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Chicago, Smokey Joe's Café, Guys and Dolls, Crazy for You, Nine, Madison Square Garden's A Christmas Carol, Assassins, Robert Wilson's Hamletmachine; Mick Jagger for the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels tour; Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage Hotel; The Pointer Sisters at Caesar's Palace; Mr. Long has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards, winning 5 times. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in January 2006. Hats off to Theoni V. Aldredge, the legendary designer of the original Dreamgirls.

Ken Billington (Lighting Design) has designed 89 Broadway shows including the current Chicago, Bye Bye Birdie and Finian's Rainbow and the current touring productions of Annie, Chicago (Worldwide), The Drowsy Chaperone, Topal in Fiddler on the Roof, High School Musical 2 (Worldwide), White Christmas and Riverdance for which he was the lighting supervisor. Ken's Tony nominations include Sunday in the Park with George, The Drowsy Chaperone, End of the World, Foxfire, Sweeney Todd, Working, and The Visit. He received the 1997 Tony Award for his work on Chicago. Other projects include New York's Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular from 1979 to 2005, Disneyland's nighttime extravaganza Fantasmic!, the Las Vegas spectacular Jubilee!, and Shamu Rocks! for Seaworld Orlando and San Diego.

Acme Sound Partners (Sound Design). Broadway: Hair (Tony Nomination), In The Heights (Tony Nomination), Legally Blonde, High Fidelity, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Drowsy Chaperone, Hot Feet, The Light in the Piazza, Monty Python's Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dracula the Musical, Twentieth Century, Fiddler on the Roof, Never Gonna Dance, The Boy From Oz, Avenue Q, Gypsy, La Bohème (Drama Desk Award), Flower Drum Song, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, Bells Are Ringing, A Class Act, Jane Eyre, The Full Monty. The partners are Tom Clark, Mark Menard, Nevin Steinberg and Sten Severson.

Howard Werner / Lightswitch (Media Design). Since 1982, Howard has created lighting and media designs for theater, architectural installations, trade shows, special events and corporate shows throughout the world. On Broadway, Howard has been represented with Dream, Lestat, The Pirate Queen and Say Goodnight Gracie and the Current Productions of Bye, Bye Birdie as well as Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Howard is a Principal in Lightswitch, a design consortium with five offices across the country. Lightswitch was Founded in 1993. www.Lightswitch.net

Moya Angela (Effie White) joins the cast from The Lion King's Gazelle and Cheetah tours (Disney). Her roles included Rafiki and Shenzi. She is a native of Indianapolis, IN where she won two Encore Awards in her roles as Sara in Ragtime and Adapearle in The Wiz. Moya will be making her NYC debut.

Syesha Mercado (Deena Jones) As a recording artist, Syesha released a single with two-time Grammy nominated jazz legend Boney James and has begun preparations for her first record, collaborating with a host of prominent writers and producers, including Grammy-winner Diane Warren, Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, Steve Diamond, Chris Rojas, and many more. She came to national attention as the second runner-up in the seventh season of Fox's "American Idol." She also participated in the subsequent "American Idol" LIVE Tour 2008, performing 53 concerts in 49 cities both in the United States and Canada. Syesha attended the Manatee School for the Arts, and was a theater major at Florida International University in Miami.

Chaz Lamar Shepherd (Curtis Taylor, Jr.). Philadelphia's Chaz Shepherd has co-starred in many TV shows (7th Heaven, The Parkers, The Game...) and as Harpo on Broadway's The Color Purple. After being on the Billboard charts 3 times in 2009, Chaz's soul/R&B album will be released during the Dreamgirls tour. Chaz's gospel work was Grammy nominated in 2009.

Chester Gregory (James "Thunder" Early) an award-winning actor/performer/singer/songwriter, is ecstatic about being "Jimmy" in Dreamgirls and returning to the World Famous Apollo Theater where he made his NY debut as "Jackie Wilson" in The Jackie Wilson Story (Jeff, AUDELCO, BTAA and Black Excellence Awards). Broadway: Hairspray (Seaweed), Cry-Baby (Dupree) and Tarzan (Terk). Other credits include Hairspray (Movie) and performing for Michael Jackson. Chester has a BFA from Columbia Chicago. His music is available at www.ChesterGregory.com.

Adrienne Warren (Lorrell Robinson) is a recent graduate of Marymount Manhattan College. New York Theatre: The Wiz (Dorothy understudy for Encores! Summer Stars). Regional: Little Shop of Horrors, Cats, Big River, and the 25th anniversary of Dreamgirls starring Jennifer Holliday. Training: Ann Reinking's Broadway Theatre Project. Trans Siberian Orchestra 2008-2009 Winter Tour (Featured Vocalist).

Trevon Davis (C.C. White) is thrilled to be a part of this production of Dreamgirls. A talented vocalist and songwriter, Trevon continues to make a name for himself with his casting as C.C. He was one of the seven finalists on BET's Sunday Best, hosted by Kirk Franklin, and he also appeared in MTV's hit series Making the Band, produced by Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Margaret Hoffman (Michelle Morris) recently graduated from Sam Houston State University, obtaining a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. While attending school, Margaret has performed in several theatrical and entertainment events at the premiere theatres of Houston, TX, such as The Ensemble Theatre and Theatre Under The Stars.

Milton Craig Nealy (Marty Madison) is happy to be a part of this new production of Dreamgirls, having been in the original Broadway and 1987 revival productions. He also created the roles of Agwe in Once on This Island and Four-Eyed Moe in Five Guys Named Moe on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include: Caroline, or Change, John in Miss Saigon (as well as the London and Australian productions), Mail and the revival of Ain't Misbehavin'. National tours: The Full Monty (also in Australia), Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar (20th anniversary tour) and Sing, Mahalia, Sing, starring Jennifer Holliday. Milton won the Best of Westword Award for his performance as Jacob in La Cage Aux Folles. Films include "The Blues Brothers."

 

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