Monday, November 23, 2009

Opportunity Brings Dream Girls Success

By Julius Tajiddin

Immediately I recognized that the staging was different than the original staging of Michael Bennett's 1981 Award winning musical. I did manage to see a taped version of the original play featuring Jennifer Holliday and Shirley Lee Ralph. But I wasn't expecting what I saw at the Apollo the afternoon of November 15, 2009. It takes a lot to impress me. And this show had it. It had it all except for actor name recognition. And you know what? Don't need it.

This version is like magic on the stage. You blink and the set is changed like a film's CUT TO. The costume changes are like magic too right before your eyes. [Got to see it to believe it!] And there are just a few black outs between scenes, including intermission. The ones during the play, only a few seconds. And that's just for effect.

For those who aren't familar with the story line (you never know) it's a story about three girls auditioning for Apollo Amatuer Night and they stumble into an opportunity that eventually leads them to become a world famous female trio in the Pop Music scene. Of course what music story is not going to have all the tappestries that go along with fame and fortune. The story ends with all of the Dream Girls returning to the Apollo for a farewell concert. To that end you don't walk out of the theatre sad one bit.

The Dreamettes then becoming The Dreams (actual names of the trio) are Deena, Lorrell and Effie, played by (on the afternoon I attended) Syesha Mercado, Adrienne Warren and Moya Angela, respectively. As every group story has [the] replacement, Michelle replaces Effie and she is played endearingly by Margaret Hoffman. These young ladies blew me away. They are all strong singers and can hold their own in the acting category more than just adequate. But I must say that when Moya's Effie began, "And I Am Telling You," after her first line, any doubts that I had in the beginning were erased. She owned that song and...and...well...I'll just leave it at that.

This show is a must see. It will inspire you and make you feel good. Whatever you thought about doing in your life, and that could even be construction, you are going to be ready and fired up.

I would like to mention also that Chester Gregory and Chez Lamar Shepard were also excellent in their respective roles as Jimmy - the James Brown like character - not really but in some manner, and Curtis - the Berry Gordy like character. Id. Trevon Davis as C.C., Effie's brother, deserves a mention too. What really impressed me with these male actors is that their timing was note worthy. Gregory also came to the Apollo several years ago as Jackie Wilson in The Jackie Wilson Story by the way.

The chorus were all good and their dancing was entertaining and polished. I can't really find anything to criticize, honestly.

Now about that set. All I will say is that it is the first time it is being used in America. It comes from Korea. Hey...that's Apollo history. And it will blow your mind.

All of this leads me to give this final message. When someone gets an opportunity it can lead to success. Whoever thought about re-staging Dream Girls with this staging and set design got an opportunity to present it at the Apollo. Cudos to Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Foundation for having the vision to take a chance with a musical that's been done before and with no real name recognition. Not to mention, the original Apollo stage was striked and put in storage. Oops!

These actors' careers are going to get a boost from doing this play. Again, opportunity. I know there are thousands of young ladies that can nail that And I Am Telling You Song. They just need a vehicle to show the world.

I predict that this vehicle, the 2009 version of Dream Girls, is going to bring a lot of success to many people. All of the actors will find tremendous success after their Dream Girls' tour. [It is going to Broadway by the way and does not need to have a different bunch of actors either.]

The set designer will be sought after to do more creative set designs. The director for this production will get an opportunity to do more plays on Broadway, maybe even film. The Apollo will now become a venue for theater and will be considered Broadway's newest and furthest uptown theater. Hey, it's only several blocks away from Broadway anyhow. And Chester Gregory will revive his Jackie Wilson role for a more successful run of The Jackie Wilson Story at the Apollo, which by then won't need to go downtown Broadway.

The only success story missing that I can see is I'm not sure if every soul in Harlem will get a chance to see this play. But what would come close is, what if every seat in the Apollo theater was filled by someone who normally wouldn't get a chance to see a Broadway play or at the moment doesn't think it's important. I guarantee that they will come out of there feeling good and inspired. And they would tell their friends. And maybe those friends will see another play if they don't get a chance to see this one and be inspired to get that construction job or GED or B.A. or whatever, and so on and so on.

Hmmm? Opportunity cannot only bring Dream Girl Success it might be what's needed to bring community success. Hit me up.
Peace Out.
Dream Girls plays through December 12, 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment