Dreamgirls Tour to Feature Duet Version of "Listen" and New Act II Opener

News   Dreamgirls Tour to Feature Duet Version of "Listen" and New Act II Opener Deena Jones may try to steal the spotlight in Dreamgirls, but she will share her newly added 11 o'clock number "Listen" —which was penned for the film — with Effie White when the fresh production of the iconic Motown musical arrives at the Apollo Theatre in November.
Moya Angela, Syesha Mercado, Adrienne Warren and Chestor Gregory
Moya Angela, Syesha Mercado, Adrienne Warren and Chestor Gregory

On the official website for the new production, actresses Moya Angela and Syesha Mercado, who will portray Effie and Deena, respectively, are seen performing a new lyric for "Listen." The video was filmed at Gracie Mansion in July during Harlem Week.

"Listen," which was added for the role of Deena (portrayed by Beyoncé Knowles) in the 2006 film, has been re-imagined as a duet between Effie and Deena for the new Dreamgirls tour. The video on the official web page features the new lyrics in which the two characters reflect on their relationship with one another and with Curtis Taylor, Jr.

In a recent interview, Dreamgirls director Robert Longbottom told Playbill.com, "The second act of Dreamgirls never had an 11 o'clock number. You have this fantastic moment where Effie and Deena face-off with each other. [Effie] says, 'I'm gonna stay and talk to the great Miss Jones.' And you think, OK, here it comes — we're finally gonna get this hair-pulling cat fight. It's a brand new lyric, and Deena offers a 'Didn't-he-do-the-same-thing-to-you?' kind of philosophy. The two of them break down and raise their voices together. It's a fantastic moment."

In a behind-the-scenes video on the Dreamgirls website, Tony-winning composer Henry Krieger also reveals that a new song has been written for the production. About composing the new song, he says, "It's as if I had never put my hands off of the keyboard. It came to me very naturally."

Willie Reale (A Year with Frog and Toad), who earned an Academy Award nomination for his lyrics to "Patience" for the 2006 Dreamgirls film, has again teamed with Krieger for the new second-act opener. "We've done a new number at the top of the second act — which is something that I think [original creators] Michael Bennett and Bob Avian labored over," Longbottom told Playbill.com. "They had two different versions of it, both using the 'Dreamgirls' [title] song. I wanted to find a new number. I think for Effie to come out at the end of the show and sing 'Dreamgirls' again — which was her song, written for her — for it to really resonate, you can't have sung it that many times during the evening. We've got a great song, that feels very much like the Motown, called 'What Love Can Do.' But it's also filled with irony about that other side of that. This is the Dreams' song — they sing this at the very top of Act Two. That's by Henry Krieger and Willie Reale, too."

The official website also offers theatergoers a sneak peak at Robin Wagner's new designs for the production, which includes large mobile LED screens capable of depicting the musical's numerous settings, many of which change within songs.

To check out "Listen" and a sneak peak at the 2009 Dreamgirls, visit DreamgirlsOnStage.

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Dreamgirls is set to begin performances at the Apollo Nov. 7 and will officially open Nov. 22. The four-week engagement runs through Dec. 6.

Tony nominee Robert Longbottom (Side Show, Flower Drum Song) directs and choreographs the production, which features additional choreography by Emmy-nominated hip-hop artist Shane Sparks.

The cast also features Adrienne Warren as Lorrell Robinson and Margaret Hoffman as Michelle Morris. Principal casting also includes Chaz Lamar Shepherd as Curtis Taylor, Jr., Chester Gregory as James "Thunder" Early, Trevon Davis as C.C. White and Milton Craig Nealy as Marty Madison.

The ensemble will comprise Tallia Brinson, Felicia Boswell, Patrice Covington, Ronald Duncan, Talitha Farrow, Brittney Griffin, James Harkness, Robert Hartwell, Eric Jackson, Chauncey Jenkins, Jared Joseph, Nikki Kimbrough, Brittany Lewis, Douglas Lyons, Kimberly Marable, Jarran Muse, Amaker Smith and Marc Spaulding.

The tour itinerary for Dreamgirls follows:

New York, NY (Nov. 7-Dec. 6 at the Apollo Theatre)
Baltimore, MD (Dec. 16-27 at the Hippodrome Theatre)
Pittsburgh, PA (Dec. 29-Jan. 3, 2010 at Heinz Hall)
Milwaukee, WI (Jan. 5-10, 2010 at the Marcus Center)
Minneapolis, MN (Jan. 12-17, 2010 at the Orpheum Theatre)
Chicago, IL (Jan. 19-31, 2010 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre)
Boston, MA (Feb. 2-14, 2010 at the Colonial Theatre)
Columbus, OH (Feb. 16-21, 2010 at the Palace Theatre)
Los Angeles, CA (Feb. 25-April 4, 2010 at the Ahmanson Theatre)
Seattle, WA (April 6-11, 2010 at the Paramount Theater)
Portland, OR (April 13-18, 2010 at the Keller Auditorium)
Costa Mesa, CA (April 20-May 2, 2010 at the Orange County PAC)
Cincinnati, OH (June 8-20, 2010 at the Aronoff Center)
Philadelphia, PA (June 22-27, 2010 at the Kimmel Center)

Dreamgirls features music by Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen. The late Michael Bennett directed and choreographed the original Broadway production; Bennett won a Tony Award for the show's choreography.

Tony Award winner Robin Wagner, who created the scenic designs for the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, renders new designs for the production. The design team also boasts Tony winners William Ivey Long (costume design) and Ken Billington (lighting design).

For tickets to the New York engagement, ranging $36-$106, visit TicketmasterApollo, phone (212) 302-0995, or visit the Apollo box office at 253 W. 125th Street, between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and Frederick Douglass Blvd.

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