The Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” opened today (December 20, 1981) at The Imperial Theatre in Manhattan.
“Dreamgirls” was based upon the success of legendary girl groups like the Supremes, the Shirelles, and various other acts including James Brown and Jackie Wilson.
“Dreamgirls” follows the story of a female singing trio from Chicago, named “the dreams” who become world renowned recording stars.
The fictional group consisted of singers Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorelle Robinson.
Singer Jennifer Holliday played “Effie White,” Sheryl Lee Ralph starred as “Deena Jones,” while Loretta Devine took the role of “Lorelle Robinson.”
The “Effie White” role also helped catapult Jennifer Holliday to mainstream success, with the hit single And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” which shot number one on the Billboard R&B charts in 1982.
The cast recording also won two Grammy Awards for Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance, for Jennifer Holliday’s song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
“Dreamgirls” was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical.
The play took home six awards.
In 2006 “Dreamgirls” was adopted into a major motion picture for DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, starring Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover and others.
Waxfact: “Dreamgirls” was originally a project for actor/singer Nell Carter. Playwright Tom Eyen and composer Henry Krieger had developed the play for Nell Carter, who eventually dropped out to except a role on “Gimme Me a Break.” Jennifer Holliday was subsequently selected as Mel Carter’s replacement.