Effie, Is That You?: "Dreamgirls" Film Seeks Its Leading Lady

News   Effie, Is That You?: "Dreamgirls" Film Seeks Its Leading Lady
An open call has been issued for an actress to play the vocally demanding role of Effie in the upcoming film of the hit musical Dreamgirls.

The casting notice says that the Dreamworks/Warner Bros. film of the Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen musical will begin shooting in January 2006 in Los Angeles. As previously announced, the cast will 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. Eddie Murphy has also been mentioned for the role of James "Thunder" Early.

Bill Condon, who wrote the script for the "Chicago" motion picture, has adapted Dreamgirls for film. He will also direct the movie musical, which is being executive produced by Patricia Witcher.

"Dreamgirls," according to the 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." About the role of Effie White, the notice says, "(Actress should be early-late 20's, no older). First seen in her late teens (and ages to late 20’s), this vibrant young African-American woman is driven and often full of herself. Effie is the true powerhouse in the group. A soaring singer whose voice overpowers and transcends the other two girls. We are seeking all body types from ‘a few extra pounds’ to ‘full-figured,’ as long as the actress embodies Effie’s qualities of self-entitlement and quick anger at perceived slights. She also carries a true sense of sexuality. Effie is a true Diva which is the result of her talent, but also the makings of her downfall. Seeking a very strong actress and major singer with a huge gospel belt voice with great power and range."

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," "I'm Somebody," "Family" and Effie's first-act show stopper, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." *

The Effie auditions will be held June 18 at the Carson Rehearsal Studios, 244 West 54th Street in Studio A on the 10th Floor. Sign in begins at 10 AM; auditions begin at 11 AM. Bring a picture and resume, and prepare one uptempo gospel, R&B or pop theatre song that shows voice and range.

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