Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dreamgirls - The Mowtown Musical

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Dreamgirls is a 2006 musical drama film, directed by Bill Condon and jointly produced and released by DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures.

Adapted from the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name by composer Henry Krieger and lyricist Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls is a roman a clef of the histories of the Motown record label and one of its acts, The Supremes.

The story follows the history and evolution of American R&B music during the 1960s and 1970s through the eyes of a Detroit, Michigan girl group known as "The Dreams" and their manipulative record executive.

The film adaptation of Dreamgirls stars Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, who won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Effie White.

The film also features Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Sharon Leal, and Hinton Battle.

Produced by Laurence Mark, the film's screenplay was adapted by director Bill Condon from the original Broadway book by Tom Eyen.

In addition to the original Kreiger/Eyen compositions, four new songs, composed by Krieger with various lyricists, were added for this film.

Dreamgirls is the most expensive film to feature an all African American starring cast in American cinema history.

Dreamgirls received three awards at the 64th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture — Musical Or Comedy, and two Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards.

The plot of Dreamgirls is broken up into two sections or acts: The first taking place from 1962 to 1966, and the second taking place from 1973 to 1975.

Backstage at an amateur talent show at the Detroit Theatre in 1962, Cadillac salesman Curtis Taylor Jr (Jamie Foxx) meets a girl group known as "The Dreamettes": lead singer Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), and back-up singers Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose).

Curtis presents himself as the Dreamettes' new manager and arranges for the Dreamettes to become backup singers for local R&B star Jimmy "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy).

With ambitions of making Black singers mainstream successes among White audiences, Curtis starts his own record label, Rainbow Records, out of his Detroit car dealership, and appoints Effie's brother, CC (Keith Robinson), as his head songwriter.

However, when their first single fails after a White pop group releases a cover version, Curtis, CC and their producer Wayne (Hinton Battle) turn to payola to make Jimmy and the Dreamettes pop stars.

Offstage, Effie becomes infatuated with the slick-talking Curtis, while the married Jimmy begins an affair with Lorrell.

Jimmy's manager Marty (Danny Glover) grows weary of Curtis' plans to make his client more pop-friendly and walks out.

However, when Jimmy bombs in front of a mostly white Miami Beach audience, Curtis sends Jimmy out on the road alone, keeping the Dreamettes behind to headline in his place.

Feeling that Effie's large figure and voice will not attract White audiences, Curtis appoints the slimmer Deena lead singer and renames the group "The Dreams".

With the aid of new songs and a more glamorous image, Curtis and CC transform The Dreams into a top selling mainstream pop act by 1965.

However, Effie begins acting out, particularly when Curtis' affections also turn towards Deena.

Curtis drops Effie from the group, hiring his secretary, Michelle (Sharon Leal), to take her place.

Nine years later, in 1973, Effie has become an impoverished welfare mother, living in inner-city Detroit with her daughter Magic.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Records has moved to Los Angeles, where the Dreams - now "Deena Jones & The Dreams" - have become superstars.

Jimmy Early, on the other hand, has descended into drug addiction, his career neglected due to Curtis' preoccupation with Deena, now also his wife.

When Jimmy has a breakdown onstage at Rainbow's tenth anniversary TV special the following year, Curtis drops him from the label, and Lorrell ends their long affair.

Some time later, Jimmy is found dead in a hotel room from a heroin overdose.

Angered over Curtis' increasing control over his music, and his lack of sympathy upon learning of Jimmy's death, CC quits and returns to Detroit to find Effie, who has been rebuilding her career in music with Marty as her manager.

The two siblings reconcile, and CC writes and produces Effie's comeback single, "One Night Only".

Just as the record begins gaining radio play in Detroit, Curtis uses payola to force radio stations to play a disco cover of "One Night Only" by Deena Jones & The Dreams instead.

His plan falls apart when Deena, angry over Curtis' control of her career, finds evidence of his payola schemes and contacts Effie and CC.

Deena and Effie reconcile, while Curtis, wanting to avoid being reported to the FBI for his payola operation, agrees to give Effie's record national distribution.

Inspired by Effie's victory, Deena leaves Curtis to make it on her own.

As a result, Deena Jones & The Dreams give a farewell performance at the Detroit Theatre.

At the conclusion of the concert, Deena invites Effie to join the group onstage and sing lead for the final performance of the group's signature song, "Dreamgirls".

As the concert ends, Curtis notices Magic in the front row and realises that he is the girl's father.


Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor Jr - Based upon Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr.
Curtis is a slick Cadillac dealer-turned-record executive who founds the Rainbow Records label and shows ruthless ambition in his quest to make his Black artists household names with White audiences.
At first romantically involved with Effie, Curtis takes a professional and personal interest in Deena after appointing her lead singer of the Dreams in Effie's place.

Beyonce Knowles as Deena Jones - Based upon Motown star Diana Ross.
Deena is a shy young woman who becomes a star after Curtis makes her lead singer of The Dreams.
This, as well as her romantic involvement and later marriage to Curtis, draws Effie's ire, though Deena realises over time she is a puppet for her controlling husband.
Knowles was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role.

Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder" Early - Inspired by R&B/soul singers such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye, Early is a raucous performer on the Rainbow label whom Curtis attempts to repackage as a pop-friendly balladeer.
Jimmy's star fades as The Dreams' star rises and he falls into drugs and an adulterous affair with Dreams member Lorrell.
Murphy won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film.

Jennifer Hudson as Effie White - Inspired by Supremes member Florence Ballard and soul singers Etta James and Aretha Franklin.
The plus-sized Effie is a talented yet temperamental singer who suffers when Curtis, the man she loves, replaces her as lead singer of The Dreams and his love interest, and later drops her altogether.
With the help of Jimmy's old manager Marty, Effie attempts to resurrect her career a decade later, while raising her daughter Magic, the offspring of her union with Curtis.
Hudson won a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Effie.

Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinso - Inspired by Supremes member Mary Wilson.
Lorell is a good-natured background singer with The Dreams who falls deeply in love with the married Jimmy Early and becomes his mistress.

Danny Glover as Marty Madison, Jimmy's original manager before Curtis steps into the picture.
Marty serves as both counsel and confidant to Jimmy, and later to Effie as well.

Keith Robinson as CC White - Inspired by Motown vice president, artist and songwriter Smokey Robinson.
CC is Effie's soft-spoken younger brother and his real name is Clarence Conrad.
He serves as the main songwriter for The Dreamettes and later the entire Rainbow roster.

Sharon Leal as Michelle Morris - Based on The Supremes member Cindy Birdsong.
Michelle replaces Effie in The Dreams and becomes CC's love interest.
She is at first Curtis' secretary until she becomes one of The Dreams' background singers.

Hinton Battle as Wayne, a salesman at Curtis' Cadillac dealership who becomes Rainbow's first record producer and Curtis' henchman.

Dreamgirls also features supporting performances from Mariah I. Wilson as Magic, Effie's daughter, Yvette Cason as May Jones, Deena's mother, Ken Page as club owner Max Washington and Alexander Folk as Ronald White, Effie and CC's father.

Cameo appearances in the film are made by John Lithgow and John Krasinski as a film producer and writer/director, Jaleel White as a talent booker at the Detroit Theatre, Dawnn Lewis as Melba Early, Jimmy's wife and Loretta Devine, who originated the role of Lorrell on Broadway, as a jazz singer in Max Washington's club.

Throughout the film, a number of musical acts depicted as allusions to or analogues of real-life R&B performers appear, among them Little Albert & The Tru-Tones (Little Anthony & The Imperials), Tiny Joe Dixon (BB King), The Family Funk (Sly & The Family Stone or the Motown house band The Funk Brothers) and The Campbell Connection (The Jackson 5).

The musical Dreamgirls was staged in the National Theatre, Malaysia from July 14-24, 2011.

It was produced by Broadway Academy and starred among others, TV personalities Cheryl Samad and Azura Zainal and reality show graduates Dina Nadzir and Dafi Ismail Sabri.