It's never good news when shows close, but sometimes there's an upside. A number of Broadway productions that shuttered in January, leaving the door open for shows that couldn't find a theatre to scoot into the current season.
It's just a little more likely, therefore, that all systems will be go for Dreamgirls, a revival of the Henry Krieger/Tom Eyen musical currently on a national tour that began Sept. 30, 1997.
Producers Irving Siders and Marvin Krauss, in association with Mitch Leigh, Albert Nocciolino & James M. Nederlander, expect the show to reach a Nederlander Broadway house the last week in April 1998. Spokesperson Richard Kornberg said (Feb. 2) said the final decision on the show's status won't be made until the end of its current Washington DC stint, Feb. 15.
Ticket sales at the venue, and the reception of the new Effie (Smokey Joe's Tony nominee, B.J. Crosby) will be crucial factors. Also important is the April 29 cut-off date for 1997-98 Tony Award consideration. The live CBS Tony broadcast will air June 7.
* The show has already overcome one hurdle. Though originally announced for Effie, Jennifer Holliday will not be in the revival, because (according to production spokesperson Jim Byk), "an agreement couldn't be reached." Instead, Roz White, who received a 1995-96 Helen Hayes Award for her work in Bessie's Blues, stars as Effie. That's the character who sings the show's roof-raising hit, "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going." She will be replaced in Baltimore, MD, Jan. 13 by B.J. Crosby. Her credits include One Mo' Time and Lady Day.
The show, which has music by Henry (Side Show) Krieger, opened its tour Sept. 30 in Providence, RI.
LaTayna Hall plays Deena, the back-up singer; Kevin-Anthony [sic], a former Grease! Teen Angel, portrays Jimmy "Thunder" Early. Other leads include Kimberly Jajaun (as Michelle, the one who replaces Effie), who was in a recent workshop of a new Sondheim revue at the Roundabout; and Tonya Dixon (as Lorrelle).
Marty is played by Darrin Lamont Byrd (Big Moe in the Canadian tour of Five Guys Named Moe); Gary Vincent plays C.C. White (Effie's brother); Curtis the manager is played by Brian Everett Chandler.
Other cast members include Ronald `Cadet' Bastine, Heidi Blickenstaff, Stephen Campanella, Wydetta Carter, Tome Cousin, Teri Furr, Michael Goddard, Napiera D. Groves, Jim Berkley Harrison, Andi Hopkins, Ron Kellum, Sara Beth Lane, Kyra Little, Janice Lorraine, Erich McMillan McCall, Charles Munn, Stacie Precia, Keenah Reid, Stepp Stewart, Andre Ward, William Wesl Aus Keith Williams and Mark L. Wright.
"It's a wonderful story, very emotional, and people relate to it," said Byk of Dreamgirls, which features the songs "One Night Only," "I Am Changing," "When I First Saw You" and "Family." Also aboard for the revival are original Dreamgirls designers Robin Wagner (set), Theoni V. Aldredge (costumes), Otts Munderloh (sound) and Tharon Musser (lighting). Keith Levenson serves as musical supervisor. .
Tony Stevens directs and choreograph the show, recreating Michael Bennett's original work. Dreamgirls' book & lyrics (by Tom Eyen) and score (Henry Krieger) have not been changed. Krieger, by the way, is currently represented on Broadway by Side Show.
Here, subject to change, are the upcoming tour dates:
Jan. 20-Feb. 15, 1998 in Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Feb. 17-March 1: in Palace Theatre, Cleveland OH
March 3-22: Detroit Opera House, Detroit, MI
March 24-29: Merriam in Philadelphia, PA
March 31-April 5: Devos in Grand Rapids, MI
April 7-12: Music Hall in Tulsa, OK
April 14-19: Shay's Buffalo Theatre in Buffalo, NY
April 21-26: Auditorium in Rochester, NY
Further dates had been originally announced for after April 26, 1998, but they've been cancelled due to the show's Broadway plans.
-- By David Lefkowitz