Dreamgirls Gets Broadway Talent at Philly's Prince Music Theater

News   Dreamgirls Gets Broadway Talent at Philly's Prince Music Theater
Prince Music Theater's resident staging of Dreamgirls opens Dec. 10 in Philadelphia, following a week of previews from Dec. 3.
Broadway's Eugene Fleming appears in Prince Music Theater's Dreamgirls.
Broadway's Eugene Fleming appears in Prince Music Theater's Dreamgirls.

Richard M. Parison, Jr., the Prince's associate artistic director and a recent Barrymore Award nominee for his production of The Big Bang in Philadelphia, stages the new production of the glamorous musical by Henry Krieger (music) and Tom Eyen (book and lyrics). His creative team and cast for the Motown-era musical soap opera is drawn from a pool of artists from New York and Philadelphia.

The show known for its flash, glitter and "big" feel is scaled-down at the Prince to allow "focus on the emotional journey of the women," Parison told Playbill.com.

"The scenic design is completely different than the original design, but still incorporates the fluidity and the cinematic nature of the piece," he said.

He calls this revival a sort of chamber version of the pop show, though none of the power of the Krieger-Eyen score is diminished.

Parison explained, "It's one of the things that regional theatre can do really well: Take things that are large in scale and take a fresh approach to it in a way that can create something exciting for our community. We've been playing to sold out houses since previews." *

The music director is Jesse Vargas (Bare: A Pop Opera, Altar Boyz Off-Broadway and Joyful Noise: The Clay Aiken National Tour). Mercedes Ellington (Play On! on Broadway, Ambassador Satch at Prince Music Theater) choreographs.

Performances play the Prince through Dec. 31.

The cast includes Chauntee Schuler (Producers on tour) as Deena Jones, Nova Payton (Smokey Joe's Cafe tour) as Effie, Alexis Sims (Walnut Street Theatre's Finian's Rainbow) as Michelle Morris, CJay Hardy Philip (Broadway's Big) as Lorrell Robinson, Kevyn Morrow (Broadway and London's Ragtime) as Curtis Taylor Jr., Eugene Fleming (Broadway's Fosse and Never Gonna Dance) as James Thunder Early, Forrest McClendon (Disney workshop of Aida) as CC White, Brian Anthony Wilson (HBO's "The Wire") as Marty, James T. Lane (national tour of Cinderella with Eartha Kitt) as Wayne, with Emily MacNamara, Piper Arpan, Renee Chambers, Erika Vaughn, Dawn Marie Watson, Denver Taylor, Mike Newman, Ricky Whitfied, Greg Baker, James Clark and Paul Mansfied.

Dreamgirls, the 1981 Broadway hit originally directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, is currently being developed into a motion picture. The Tony Award-winning show focuses on the trials of a Supremes-like singing African-American girl group and their struggle to make it to the top — "including heartache, triumphs, breakups and disappointment," according to Prince notes.

The creative team includes scenic designer Todd Edward Ivins, costume designer Mark Marianni, lighting designer Troy Martin-O'Shia and sound designer Nick Kouritides.

For Prince ticket information, call the UPStages box office at (215) 569-9700 or visit www.princemusictheater.org.

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