Deborah Burrell (center) starred in the original Dreamgirls, where she played a Stepp Sister and Michelle Mitchell. Tamara Tune starred in the Sept. 24 benefit for the Actors Fund, which featured choreography by Smokey Joe's Cafe star Brenda Braxton.
The Ford Center, home of 42nd Street, housed the Dreamgirls event, which offered much vocal firepower from its three stars: Audra McDonald, Heather Headley and Lillias White (who played Effie). It was also a night for recent nostalgia, as Alice Ripley (The Rocky Horror Show) and Emily Skinner (The Full Monty), who played the joined-at-the-hip sisters of Side Show, reunited to play the Sweehearts vocal group and sing "Cadillac Car."
Even cameo roles in the concert went to big names. According to a spokesperson at the Barlow-Hartman press office, Stokes Mitchell (King Hedley II and a Tony winner for Kiss Me, Kate played Jerry, while Patrick Wilson (The Full Monty) and Brad Oscar (The Producers) and Malcolm Gets (A New Brain) played film executives. Other cast members included Tamara Tunie (as Michelle), James Stovall (as Marty), Darius de Haas (Marie Christine), Norm Lewis (Side Show, A New Brain) and Billy Porter (Miss Saigon).
Dreamgirls, a high-energy musical from the pens of librettist Tom Eyen and composer Henry Krieger (who went on to write the aforementioned Side Show), tells of a Supremes-like singing group that moves from the streets of Chicago to the big time — with lots of infighting and heartbreak along the way. Songs include "One Night Only," "I Am Changing," "When I First Saw You," "I'm Somebody," "Family" and Effie's show-stopping "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." The show was originally directed by Michael Bennett in 1981 and became legendary for its flashy staging and design.
An exact figure on how much money the benefit raised for the Actors Fund has yet to be announced, though sources say it might be in the $1 million range. Nonesuch Records recorded the concert, to be released on CD (tentatively) Nov. 20. View the next photo