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DREAMGIRLS

Bringing The Legend To Life
"I'm not the dream that you had before. I'm the dream that will give you more and more.”

"Dreamgirls” was an anomaly when it came to life on the Broadway stage in the early 1980s directed by Michael Bennett. While visually the play was unlike anything ever attempted on Broadway, it was the intense human drama and moving, show-stopping songs that redefined musical theater for the era. "There is something primal about musicals,” says writer-director Bill Condon, who was galvanized as he sat in the back row with some friends on opening night. "They can get under your skin in a way that straight dramas can't. In "Dreamgirls,” the emotions bleeding through the songs made it a profoundly affecting experience.”

Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger's earthy fable about real emotions – love, ambition, anguish, passion – deeply resonated with a vast cross-section of people. "We all know what it's like to desperately want something we can't have,” Condon continues. "We all know what it's like to be left behind. Or to sacrifice everything for something you think you want, only to realize too late what you've lost. Here, in these characters, was all the hope and anguish laid bare. It's what has stayed with me all these years later, and what I wanted to bring back to life in this film.”

"The themes of this story seem to be even more relevant today than they were twenty-five years ago,” notes producer Laurence Mark. "What are the gains and losses that accompany fame? What are the consequences if you don't compromise? What are the consequences if you do? Is talent something to be packaged and sold? And finally, in the quest to hang on to your dreams, how can you also hang on to yourself?”

The setting is the Motor City, where African-American music is on the verge of breaking down the doors of the mainstream American music scene. "This story takes place in the '60s and '70s, which was a period of vast social and political change,” says Condon. "The characters in ‘Dreamgirls' reflect that upheaval.”

Not only was music in transition, but so was the country. "This film takes place in a very unique time in history, the beginning of the urbanization of music,” adds cast member Danny Glover. "The rise of the Civil Rights movement was bringing segregation to its end. The focus was shifting to the urban centers in the country.”

The story finds one man trying to break in at that precise moment. Jamie Foxx, who won the Academy Award® for his portrayal of Ray Charles in "Ray,” in addition to being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for "Collateral,” plays Curtis Taylor, Jr., a hungry young businessman who sells Cadillacs as a springboard to a bright future he feels destined for. "Curtis is a rough-edged kind of guy who is trying to get into the music business,” says Foxx. "He just wishes that he could have sung better, could have written better music, could have played some type of instrument, but he can't. So, he does what he can to get to the top by managing talent. I think that comes with a curse for him – on some level, he wishes it was him out there. He's working every angle until he finds an opening.”

With "girl groups” sprouting up from gospel choirs across the country, talent night at the local club proves to be a goldmine. "Curtis is everywhere, putting things together,” says Condon. He finds his vehicle when he sets his eyes on The Dreamettes. "They are three hungry, excited, anxious, naïve girls,” says Beyoncé Knowles. The Platinum-selling musical artist stars as Deena Jones, a role she was told at the tender age of 16 that she was born to play. "It's so exciting for them to be there because they want this so bad. They want to be in the music industry. Their futures are entirely in front of them, and they think they've got what it takes to make it. When Curtis sees them, he sees all that potential.”

Beautiful but circumspect,

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