20 Dec 2012
On this date in 1981, Dreamgirls premiered at the Imperial Theatre. The Playbill Vault looks back on its successful Broadway run.
Following opening night on Dec. 20, 1981, Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times: "When Broadway history is being made, you can feel it." In his rave review of the "beautiful and heartbreaking new musical," he praised Michael Bennett's "imaginative" staging and likened the powerhouse performance from Jennifer Holliday to Ethel Merman in Gypsy.
Dreamgirls dominated the 1982 Tonys with 13 nominations. The production won six of those categories, including awards for Jennifer Holliday and co-choreographers Michael Bennett and Michael Peters, but the show lost Best Musical to Maury Yeston's Nine.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.