It was recently reported that Eddie Murphy will play James "Thunder" Early in the film, the role created on Broadway by Cleavant Derricks. Derricks won a 1982 Tony Award for his performance.
The Dreamworks/Warner Bros. film of the Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen musical will also include pop star Beyonce as Deena Jones, the character loosely based on the life of pop singer Diana Ross. Also cast are recent Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor Jr. and Usher as songwriter C.C. White. An open call for the demanding role of Effie was held June 18.
"Dreamgirls," according to a casting release, is described thusly: "Set in the early 1960's to the 1970's, this is the story of the amazing 'Dreams' — three African-American girl singers from the projects of Detroit who break their hearts on the path to stardom."
Dreamgirls, which concerns the rise of a Supremes-like singing group amid a flurry of infighting, debuted at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre on Dec. 9, 1982, playing 1,521 performances before closing Aug. 11, 1985. The original cast featured Obba Babatundé, Cleavant Derricks, Loretta Devine, Ben Harney, Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Deborah Burrell. The show lost the Tony for Best Musical to Maury Yeston’s Nine. A 1987 revival at the Ambassador Theatre starred Lillias White, Alisa Gyse, Kevyn Morrow, Weyman Thompson and Arnetia Walker. Dreamgirls song titles include "One Night Only," "I Am Changing," "When I First Saw You," "Family" and Effie's first-act show stopper, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."