Dreamgirls at Goodspeed

Musical Inspired by The Supremes

By: - Dec 14, 2023

Dreamgirls, now at Goodspeed through Saturday, December 30, may not be a holiday-themed show, but it certainly is a gift to Connecticut audiences. This is a fine production of a popular show.

Dreamgirls features a predictable show biz story about the career of a successful entertainer, in this case, a girl singing group, first called the Dreamettes.  It is also the story of a ruthless young man (Curtis) who will control, lie, manipulate, and cheat to achieve his aims. When he hurts or destroys someone, his response “It’s business.”

This musical is loosely inspired by the story of The Supremes and their manager, Barry Gordy. Knowledgeable fans of the Supremes will find similarities to the plot points in Dreamgirls.

The show opens with three young women coming from Detroit to the Apollo Theatre in New York City to compete in a talent competition; they are accompanied by CC, the brother to Effie. CC is a songwriter and sometime manager for the girls. Backstage, the group meets established manager/promoter Marty, his RB star, Jimmy; and Curtis Taylor, a hungry car salesman who wants into the business. Curtis, early on, reveals his willingness to do anything, offering a bribe if the girls don’t win. He then convinces them to sing backup for Jimmy, who on stage is known as James Thunder Early. Curtis has managed to supplant Marty.

Effie is the most self-confident one in the group and rejects the offer only to accept it finally. Though Effie is confident of her singing talent, she is less confident about her appearance. She is a plus-size woman. She is also attracted to Curtis, who becomes their manager. From there, it is onward and upward for the group, which will soon be renamed The Dream and get bigger and better gigs.

Curtis is pulling the strings; despite his affair with Effie, he replaces her as lead singer with group member Deena.  He claims it is because he wants a smoother sound; Effie’s voice is very R&B. Curtis wanted a sound that would cross over to the pop charts, what became the classic softer Motown sound.  The members begin wearing couture gowns. Act one ends with Effie’s “(And I Am Telling You) I’m not going.” It’s a sure showstopper.

Act two follows Curtis’ manipulations as the group moves higher and higher on the pop charts. He is now married to Deena and controlling every aspect of her career and life. CC has remained with Curtis as a composer/lyricist, while Effie has struggled with anger and alcohol issues. Marty helps her begin again, but it is a difficult. When CC finally breaks up with Curtis, he and Effie reconcile, and she records one of his songs. It is a hit, though Curtis does everything he can to destroy them. The show ends with Deena leaving both The Dreams and Curtis for a film career.

First of all, Trejah Bostic is terrific as Effie. She embodies both her determination and her lack of confidence. While she may lack confidence in her appearance, she knows her sound is authentic. Her rendition of CC’s song “One Night Only” is terrific.

Evan Tyrone Martin does not try to sugarcoat Curtis’ manipulations and cruelty. He rejects the urge to garner audience sympathy at the end when Curtis is abandoned by Deena.

Goodspeed has ensembled a cast of terrific musicians. Ta-Tynsa Wilson, who plays Deena, has been on American Idol, and Mykal Kilgore, as Jimmy, has a Grammy to his credit. He makes “Ain’t No Party” his own.  Wilson embodies Deena as she becomes the fashion plate star in the group. Keirsten Hogdens is fine as, Lorrell, the third member of the original group.

Though Jos N. Bank and Robert Cornelius have smaller roles, as CC and Marty, respectively, each nails the character.

Director Lili-Anne Brown and choreographer Breon Arzell make effective use of Goodspeed’s small stage. They are aided by the minimalist scenic design by Arnel Sancianco. Samatha C. Jones’ costumes capture both the period (late 1960s) and the glamour of the original Supremes. Wig designer Earon Chew Nealey should be given a round of applause.

Let’s admit that this is a loud show with many of the songs capturing the R&B, and gospel stylings.

You may want to hiss at Curtis for his amoral actions, but you will be rooting for Effie and CC to reclaim their success.

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This content is courtesy of Shore Publications and