‘Dreamgirls’ brings sound of soul to Capitol Theatre

2013-02-07T00:01:00Z 2013-02-07T07:02:41Z ‘Dreamgirls’ brings sound of soul to Capitol TheatreAmber Foote - Correspondent Daily Herald
February 07, 2013 12:01 am  • 

Relive the Motown sound with the hit Broadway show "Dreamgirls" taking front and center at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City through Sunday.

The touring Broadway musical, brought by Big League Productions, captures the story of a 1960s singing group's rise to stardom and ultimate breakup.

The story was inspired by the career of Diana Ross and the Supremes and brings back the signature sounds of such greats as the Supremes, the Shirelles and James Brown.

"The whole style of the '60s and '70s, we were all inspired by that," said Jasmin Richardson, who plays Deena Jones, the "it girl" and eventual lead singer of the all-girl group the Dreams in the musical. "It's an honor to follow in their footsteps. They paved the way."

Opening on Broadway in 1981, "Dreamgirls," (music by Henry Krieger, lyrics and book by Tom Eyen) won six Tony Awards and two Grammys, and was later adapted to film in 2006. This technically updated version uses modern multi-media to spotlight the rise and fall of the Dreams, and the overall arc of Motown.

The story begins with three friends, Effie, Deena and Lorrell, the Dreamettes, who enter a talent competition in Harlem, N.Y. Curtis Taylor, Jr., a used-car salesman, enters backstage one night to meet the girl group. He eventually becomes their manager, renaming them the Dreams.

"He's the one that discovers these girls and grooms them and turns them into the stars that you see in the show," Richardson said.

By the second act, Effie, the full-figured lead singer of the group, is replaced with Deena, the most beautiful of the girls and the one who has a more "commercial" sound.

"Deena is considered, in the beginning, a background vocalist," Richardson said. "She's more concerned about the business aspect of show business, not really about being the star. Then she buys into this dream that being the star is what she wants ... and she grows and evolves and becomes the diva."

The changeup creates drama among the friends and causes the eventual breakup of the group, aided in no small part by their manager, Curtis, played by Aubrey Poo.

"This car salesman goes from basically reading talent contracts to taking these girls to stardom," Poo said. "By nature he's a wheeler and dealer and he'll broker a deal at any cost. The vision gets the better of him and he makes some horrible decisions which affect the lives of three or four girls. The dream that he had to be this pioneer in the music industry is destroyed by virtue of destroying these lives that have walked away from him and gone to do their own thing."

Poo, who is from Johannesburg, South Africa, said the songs in the musical, such as hits "One Night Only" and "Listen," not only carry the story but also accurately resonate the soulful vibes of the era.

"We transition from soul and R&B, to pop throughout the show," Poo said. "Being in the heart of America and hearing these voices, you capture that sound quite well. It's quite amazing and quite breathtaking. It's signature Motown."

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