: Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Sharon Leal, Hinton BattleDirector
: Bill Condon Genre
: Drama, MusicalRated
: PGRunning Time
: 130 minutes Synopsis
: In 1960s Detroit, a good night onstage can get you noticed but it won't get your song played on the radio. Here, a new kind of music is on the cusp of being born - a sound with roots buried deep in the soul of Detroit itself, where songs are about more than what's on the surface, and everyone is bound together by a shared dream.
Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) is a car salesman aching to make his mark in the music business - to form his own record label and get its sound heard on mainstream radio at a time when civil rights are still only a whisper in the streets. He just needs the angle, the right talent, the right product to sell.
Late for their stint in a local talent show, The Dreamettes - Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles), Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose), and lead singer Effie White (Jennifer Hudson) - show up in their cheap wigs and homemade dresses, rehearsing songs and steps by Effie's brother, C.C. (Keith Robinson), with hopes that talent and sheer desire will break them out of the only life that seems available to them.
They're young. They're beautiful. They're just what Curtis is looking for.
All they have to do is trust him.
James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy) is a pioneer of the new Detroit sound, spellbinding audiences all along the "Chitlin' Circuit" with his electrifying blend of soul and rock 'n' roll. Curtis finesses The Dreamettes a gig singing backup for Early, and suddenly, for all of them, the gulf between what they want and what they can have draws closer for the first time.
Curtis launches the girls as a solo act, rechristening them The Dreams, knowing in his gut that success lies not with the soulful voice of Effie, but with the demure beauty and malleable style of Deena - despite their history
and Curtis' promises. Deena is ready to step into the spotlight, even as Effie fades away.
As a new musical age dawns, Curtis' driving ambition pushes this one-time family to the forefront of an industry in the throes of music revolution. But when the lights come up and the curtains part, they hardly recognise who they've become. Their dreams are finally there for the taking, but at a price that may be too heavy for their hearts to bear. Release Date
: 18th of January, 2007Website
: www.dreamgirlsmovie.comPart 1
From the beginning, Bill Condon's vision for "Dreamgirls" was a fully realised, grittily real world in which the fable - so infused with the stuff of dreams - could unfold.
"Dreamgirls" was shot on location in and around Los Angeles, in venues including the early vaudevillian Palace Theatre and the Orpheum Theatre and Pasadena's historic Ambassador Auditorium. Filming also took place in the downtown Los Angeles Alexandria Hotel, where location scouts uncovered ornate columns and plasterwork that proved ideal for the '60s-era theaters featured in the film. "'Dreamgirls' brings us to a time that signaled massive changes in our music, our culture and our society," says John Myhre. "It's an exciting time to re-create and a wonderful show to reinvent for the screen. The 1960s was also such a great era for design. I thought it would be fun if we could find some of the sense of theatrics in real-world settings."
In the Palace Theatre, where the balconies are set against the walls prohibitively far from the stage, John Myhre had box seats built around the stage to bring the audience closer to the action. Bill Condon, director of photography Tobias Schliessler and the camera crew were therefore able to capture the reactions of the crowds watching the performers.
The Palace itself also yielded a set piece that provided them with a key component in the introduction of James "Thunder" Early - a manually operated lift for transporting props from storage below up to the stage. The special effects team fitted the lift with a motor and allowed Early to rise as if by magic before the star-struck Dreamettes for the first time.
Bill Condon structured the film to be book-ended by two important performances, both taking place at the Detroit Theatre - the talent competition that brings the core characters together for the first time, and the farewell concert of Deena Jones and The Dreams. For both shows, the Palace Theatre stood in for the Detroit Theatre. "We chose not to fix it up," says Johnn Myhre. "The idea is that they could have chosen to do their Farewell Concert at any huge venue in the world. We thought it would be nice if they decided, 'Hey, it's our final show. Let's do it where we started.' It was nice for the movie to end up at the same place."
Production constructed sets recreating Miami's opulent Crystal Room and Caesar's Palace on the soundstages of the Los Angeles Center Studios. "It's an escalation of riches, so to speak," says executive producer Patricia Whitcher, "in terms of the types of audiences that they perform for and the venues they perform in."
A key set in the production is Curtis' Cadillac dealership, which then transforms into his offices and recording studios. "Curtis made money as a car dealer before turning record producer," says John Myhre. "Dealerships of the period were so theatrical in and of themselves, they lent themselves perfectly to the musical aspects of the film."
Finding the right period setting for the showroom in contemporary Los Angeles was a challenge John Myhre relished. "We drove up and down virtually every business street in town where there still exist brick buildings and lovely old architecture, and an absence of palm trees," he says: "We found a vacant lot that had a brick building on one side of it, and the real wonder was across the street - a beautiful brick church."
John Myhre and Bill Condon both sensed the presence of a church so close to the birthplace of this music was absolutely truthful to the world they wanted to bring to life. "When we looked at the church, I could just hear Gospel music coming out of it," John Myhre recalls. "I thought, 'Wow, what a great way to ground the set we're going to build.'"
It took roughly thirty craftsmen two months to construct Curtis' dealership on this lot; the space was later quickly redressed to become the original offices of Curtis' company, Rainbow Records. To shoot later sequences as Rainbow evolves, production relocated the company to the venerated Los Angeles Times' building, with its beautiful wood walls, huge panes of glass and massive stone floors.
"These settings tell us something about the characters associated with that place," explains John Myhre. "Curtis moves his cars away and their space is gradually taken up with recording equipment. The dealership is transformed into the Detroit offices of Rainbow Records. Then, when the offices are moved to Los Angeles, when Curtis and Rainbow are at the height of success, these offices are representative of what Curtis has become. It's a big, strong, masculine space that the other characters have to relate to. The building is almost him. It's the same with his house."
The finely designed contemporary home that represents the great success Curtis achieves with Deena's career was embodied by the famed Sinatra House in Chatsworth, California, which John Myhre's team dressed with vintage finds from the early 1970s. The predominantly glass structure was owned by Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball at certain points in its storied history.
"This superlative team of committed artists and designers was able to conjure the transitional world of 'Dreamgirls' - from its Detroit beginnings in the early '60s to New York, Miami, and California, spanning two decades of cultural change. Working from well-chosen locations and beautiful, wholly created sets, they synthesized everything into a period-inspired place unique to this musical," observes Bill Condon. I Am Changing: The Light and Colour of an Era Through Tobias Schliessler's Lens"I am changing.
Seeing everything so clear.
I am changing.
I'm gonna start right now right here."
Bill Condon wanted to tell the story of "Dreamgirls" through a palpably real lens, with all the imperfections intact. Therefore, director of photography Tobias Schliessler's cinéma vérité-infused style carried over from the football epic "Friday Night Lights" brought precisely the kind of grit he wanted. "We were going for an urban, gritty look," describes producer Lawrence Mark. "Everything in this film, in a way, is choreographed. A musical, particularly this one, is about movement - not just of bodies, but of cameras, lights, sets, even storylines and character trajectories. The camera has its own moves, Tobias Schliessler's cinematography has its own music."
"I was excited by the visual possibilities of this film," says Tobias Schliessler. "The realism leapt out at me when I first read the script. I hadn't even thought of it as a musical during that first read. I saw indications that the characters were singing, but it read to me that it was just dialog between characters. So, we wanted to keep it as real as possible, but still include the magic of a musical."
The department heads all collaborated closely with Bill Condon on representing the arc of fame, and the level of success attained by the core group of people in the film, for his part, Tobias Schliessler set out to let the raw feeling in the beginning of the film to give way to more stylisation as the story progresses. When the group transforms - as Effie is cast out, replaced by Michelle - a schism occurs in the look of the film between the two parallel stories. "The break between Effie and The Dreams breaks the photographic style as well," explains Tobias Schliessler. "In general, earthy colors for Detroit in the '60s and '70s, and pastel colors for '70s California."
There was also the added challenge of creating naturalistic bridges between the gritty real world cinematography and the stylised musical sequences. "The camera should move naturally without being too obvious, but you have to let the audience know, through camera work and elsewhere, that they are also in a different world," Tobias Schliessler explains.
To map out the camerawork for the musical numbers in particular, Bill Condon and Tobias Schliessler took advantage of the breakthrough previsualization ("pre-viz") process commonly used in films with heavy visual effects components. They executed rehearsal runs with three video cameras to predict how a number would play out with motion picture cameras rolling and fine-tuned the results. Storyboards were then incorporated into the live-action foortage, along with sections of dialog in voiceover , giving Condon and his team a head start in not only shooting but editing complete sequences.
"This pre-production exercise provided all of us with a better understanding how to transition in and out of musical numbers," says Editor Virginia Katz. "We were able to see where the greatest challenges are and were also inspired to see how a given sequence would ultimately manifest itself." Love You I Do: Theatrical Lighting By Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer "Never ever felt quite like this
Good about myself from our very first kiss.
I'm here when you call.
You've got it all
And confidence like I never knew."
As a counterpoint to the realistic approach taken with live action sequences for the musical numbers, Bill Condon wanted to bring back all the glamour and fireworks that galvanized the original production. Only one team could achieve that level of perfection in terms of the lighting design - Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. "'Dreamgirls' has a show-within-a-show aspect to it, and authentic theatrical lighting was essential to the look of the numbers," says Lawrence Mark.
"We were so lucky on 'Dreamgirls' to have the best theatrical lighting team in the world," says production designer John Myhre. "It was an honor to collaborate with Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer."
Tony-winning theatrical lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer worked in tandem with Tobias Schliessler and his team to seamlessly integrate the styles of the performances with the off-stage sequences. A close collaboration was required, in order to keep their lights in sync with his cameras. In a theater, an audience member only has one point-of-view, whereas the motion picture camera has a transitional, moveable point-of-view. "In theater, we do things to change the audience's perspective by moving light around, adjusting levels," says Jules Fisher. "In film, we have the added element of the motion of the camera to consider."
"Since theatrical lighting is designed to be viewed from only one direction and with the naked eye, it doesn't necessarily translate into motion picture lighting," explains Tobias Schliessler. "In the disco, we basically had 200 lights burning right into the camera
and if they're too bright and too close, they burn out. Our natural eye is more tolerant of extreme lighting levels than we can record on film. So I told Jules, 'I have to bring these levels down a little bit,' and in time they completely got it. It was a learning curve for all of us and ended up being a great collaborative experience."
Jules Fisher elaborates, "Lighting for the stage is totally to please the eye. For film, we have to adjust it so that the emulsions of the film capture what the eye sees, and they're very different responses."
Though they let their imaginations run wild, the team also became guardians of accuracy and verisimilitude in creating sequences for the eras in which they're set. "As lighting designers," says Peggy Eisenhauer, "we are very concerned with maintaining the feeling of period, to make sure nothing is out of context or anachronistic."
And to also keep the story grounded in its musical roots. "Part of our design process is to choreograph the motion of light to match the music," explains Jules Fisher. "Not only to match it from a rhythmic standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint as well. Lighting changes themselves are musical. If there is a percussive beat, the light changes on that beat; if there is a swell of violins, it can change over time with the swell. It's a way for the musical and visual elements to become seamlessly intertwined."
When John Myhre created a disco inside Los Angeles' Tower Theatre, where The Dreams perform their version of "One Night Only," it became the ideal arena for Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer to bring their immense stage lighting acumen to the production - Fisher had designed the lighting for New York's famed party palace, Studio 54.
"One Night Only" utilised more than 200 lighting instruments. "The sequence is reminiscent of those glorious '70s disco days," says Lawrence Mark. "Jules Fisher had created the lighting towers and those lights that descended while people danced at Studio 54, which was an old theater that had been turned into a club. So we had him help turn the beautiful Tower Theatre into a disco."
For the song "Dreamgirls," which represents The Dreams'triumphant attainment of mainstream success, Bill Condon and John Myhre worked with the lighting team to create a sense of the group taking over the world. "We embedded light bulbs into our blue-sequined drape surrounding them," describes John Myhre. "And when they sing, 'All you have to do is dream,' some of the lights appear. It gives the effect of a star field. Then, on another line, more lights appear, and you realise they're surrounded by lights - not just embedded in the drapes and walls; they're hanging everywhere. Then we lower the front-lighting on the drape so it vanishes behind the stars and Tobias Schliessler's beautiful camera work swirls around and it feels like they're floating through the universe." Jimmy's Rap: Costumes, Makeup and Hair"Got a home in the hills, Mercedes-Benz,
Hot swimming pool, Got lots of friends.
Got clothes by the acre, Credit to spare.
I could wake up tomorrow
And find nobody there."
Oscar-nominated costumer Sharen Davis's challenge was to produce clothes that would evoke a sense of period but not exist merely as reproductions of the clothing of the '60s and '70s eras. "This was a revolutionary time in fashion and creating the costumes for 'Dreamgirls' let me run the gamut from what was happening on the street to the ultimate in glamour for the concert stage," she says. "The cast had as much fun wearing the costumes as I did designing them."
Sharen Davis holds the unique qualification for her participation in the film of chasing the dream of pop glory as a former member of a "girl group" herself. "I had a short history as a background vocalist, and I remember what I used to wear," she explains. "I was a theater major at the time, so I was working during the day on theatrical costumes and, at night, I was 'ooh-ing' and 'aah-ing' behind somebody. And when I went to interview with Bill Condon, I said, 'As someone who used to do this, I'm just so excited to do the costumes for these girls!'"
As the life trajectories of the core characters in "Dreamgirls" evolve, so do the clothes - starting out as rough, raw and unpolished, "unproduced." As Curtis works his crossover magic on the group, that roughness becomes polished, refined and homogenised.
Creating the wardrobe for the film - which spans thirteen years in the lives of the characters - was a collaborative process with the film's other artisans. Color palettes of the costume designs were closely coordinated with the looks and colors of the sets, the lights, every aspect of physical production.
Sharen Davis describes the groups of the '60s as being as much about looks as sound. In their pre-fame looks, the The Dreamettes'dresses are homemade and somewhat homely, but fun and bright and able to move with the choreography. Once they are "on their way" - and held on an increasingly tight leash by Curtis - the freeness of the cuts vanishes, replaced with constricting tour outfits. But, at the same time, The Dreams also become the embodiment of heightened glamour.
Likewise, their makeup and styling - by makeup supervisor Shutchai Tym Buacharern and hair supervisor Camille Friend - transform as well. "When the girls first start they are plain and very simple," says Shutchai Tym Buacharern. "They're like girls from the 'hood who might pick up a magazine but can't afford to go buy the major brands. So they're drugstore products. Then, they become more and more groomed and refined."
"In the beginning, they start on the Chitlin' Circuit and they're very young," notes Camille Friend. "They would have to have very inexpensive wigs in those lean, early years. Deena even comes up with the idea to turn their wigs around to distinguish themselves, because they just know the cheapness of their wigs is obvious to their competition. I was in the wig store for about two hours just turning wigs around on my head to see how this would work."
Later, however, the young women grow into their glamour. "When we performed 'Dreamgirls' at the Miami Crystal Room, it was a two-and-one-half hour makeup and hair process before filming," recalls Beyonce Knowles. "This is the point where Deena steps up and becomes the lead. She is making the transformation of her life - from Deena the singer into Deena the superstar. So, it was fitting that that number was blown out with these sexy, heavy dresses - corseted at the top and bustiers, the biggest hair in my life, and the bluest eye shadow I've ever seen!"
From wardrobe to makeup, hair and wigs, all of the key artisans sought to painstakingly plot the arc of each principal cast member to make certain the evolution of the looks reflected their progression. "The character's clothes tell the wearer's story," says Sharen Davis. "Deena goes from looking 16 to becoming this incredible diva, but her ladylike personality shows in her feminine choices from the start - dresses, never pants. Her look is sometimes childlike. Then, the childishness is banished and replaced with controlled sophistication while she's laboring under Curtis' detail-oriented eye. When she begins to come into her own, the clothes begin to relax. The colors and cut of her clothes explode into a burst of freeing, independent-feeling, color-saturated looks."
Friend referenced the hairstyles of the girl groups of the era, like The Supremes and The Marvelettes, and for the men people like Berry Gordy and James Brown. "Our wigmaker, Bob Krishner, made over twenty custom wigs for this movie," says Camille Friend.
Effie, says Davis, starts her journey as "a diva with no money. This diva-in-the-making thinks she is the hottest thing, and her coat, which is a fake, is her signature. Then, when she becomes an ex-singer on welfare, those animal prints fall away, replaced with a palette of earthy, dark metals."
Likewise, her hair evolves as well. "Effie goes the opposite way from the other characters, her former group mates," says Friend. "In the '70s, we totally stripped her down of all her beauty, all her money, and she has totally turned against the glamour. She goes into a much more natural style. We took her wig off and used her natural hair. It made her very vulnerable, which really worked for the character."
In her final performance in the film, Effie's outfit unabashedly recalls two sirens of the 1940s - Billie Holiday and Mae West. Davis also referenced the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, as the inspiration for much of Effie's clothing choices.
For the Deena and The Dreams farewell concert, Davis supervised the fabrication of 15-pound dresses that incorporated various fabrics and materials, including chainmail formed from platinum sequins. The gowns sported in the Crystal Room concert were boned so heavily that the performers' movements were restricted. "Beyonce said it forced her into a position of such uprightness that it gave her absolute confidence in what she was doing as a performer," says Sharen Davis, "while Jennifer Hudson said it made her feel like a Barbie, and made her stand up straight, which she didn't like to do!"
All in all, Sharen Davis completed full designs for more than 120 looks for the women in the film, executing around 100 of them. Her research incorporated not only archival photography of the era but also the high fashion of the time to see what stars like The Dreams would have been wearing. "I looked at magazines like Ebony and Life, and footage from the Motown era, like appearances on 'American Bandstand,'" she says.
She also referenced the original Broadway costumes of Theoni V. Aldridge. "I know that the dresses they wore weighed a lot, and the look - with a 'bottomless train,' where you don't see the women's feet - made it seem like they were floating," Sharen Davis describes. "I use that look as well, as my way of paying homage to her and her work."
For the male costumes, Sharen Davis referenced such performers as James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Prince, but incorporated more modern fabrics that would allow the actors to move more freely and provide a more contemporary look.
"Jamie Foxx is a fashion plate," Sharen Davis describes. "He looks great in anything." The rich colors of Curtis' earlier hope and ambition are eventually replaced with a colder, harder sense of the "business" of entertainment. "His jewel tones give way in the '70s to a lot of black, clean lines, like what Donald Trump might wear."
Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder" Early would likewise recall the R&B greats while not being strictly period. "Eddie Murphy's character was a lot of fun," says Camille Friend. "He is an R&B superstar, so we wanted to give him that look. I looked at different pictures of The Four Tops, The Temptations, and they all had beautiful pompadours. So we wanted to give him that look."
The '60s and '70s were a time of quickly changing looks and hairstyles, for men and women alike. "At one point, I wear this medium-sized Afro," says Jamie Foxx. "And I've always said, 'Never trust anybody in a medium-sized Afro.' I called it 'The Mean Wig.' You put it on, and automatically, you feel the character. That was part of Curtis, that wig." And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going: Legacy of Dreamgirls"There's no way I can ever go.
No no there's no way
I'm living without you.
I'm not living without you.
I don't want to be free."
The music of the '60s and early '70s gave voice to a society in the throes of a revolution. When the sound of Motown began its saturation of the airwaves, it became the soundtrack for the Civil Rights movement breaking its way through the sheen of superficial Americana.
Berry Gordy, Jr., a professional boxer and veteran of the Korean War, couldn't sing but he could play a little piano, had a great ear, and knew how to write a song. In the 1950s, he met an ambitious teenager named William "Smokey" Robinson. With Berry Gordy producing and William Robinson writing and singing, they recorded the single "Got a Job" (an answer to the Silhouettes hit, "Get a Job") for New York-based End records. The song rose to No. 1 on the R&B charts, but when Berry Gordy received a royalty check for $3.19, he realised he was on the wrong side of the music business. In 1959, he created Motown Records with an $800 loan from his family. Smokey Robinson became vice president of the label. Gordy purchased a two-story house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit and converted the garage and basement into the primitive Hitsville U.S.A. recording studio.
Berry Gordy fastidiously scrutinized every new act he signed for wardrobe, makeup, wigs, choreography, and grooming - no detail escaped him. Echoing Gordy's philosophy, the company's first hit was Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)," followed by the Miracles' "Shop Around." A year later, the Marvelettes scored the label's first No. 1 pop hit with "Please Mr. Postman."
Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Diana Ross were girls from the Brewster Projects in Detroit, barely out of high school when Berry Gordy signed them in 1961. Overnight, the former Primettes (originally a quartet) became the Supremes. In 1964, "Where Did Our Love Go" became their first No. 1 smash, followed by eleven more No. 1 hits over the next five years. They performed on "American Bandstand" and "The Ed Sullivan Show," and became an international sensation.
Berry Gordy's gamble birthed 110 Top 10 hits between 1961 and 1971, from such icons as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Four Tops, and the Jackson Five. These artists and Gordy created the historic Motown Sound, a sound that defined an era and broke musical, racial, social, and national barriers. They charted the course of popular music and paved the way for future black artists to find success with mainstream audiences around the world.
"I remember being eight-years-old and begging my father to take my sisters and me to the Brooklyn Paramount theater to see Diana Ross and the Supremes," remembers Bill Condon. "I was obsessed with them and other Motown groups at a very young age. I heard all of this amazing music in the context of the time - this famous march in Detroit led by Marin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement, particularly a speech in 1963. All of this history gives a scale and context for the story of 'Dreamgirls.' While ostensibly it's about the music and the rise of this group, just beneath the surface it tells a very personal story of the struggle African-Americans faced in seeking an end to the kind of accepted bigotry of the era."
"Dreamgirls" began life as a musical called "Big Dreams," written by Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger. The show was workshopped for Joseph Papp at the Public Theatre, with Nell Carter singing the role of Effie White. When Carter left to take the lead in the hit sitcom "Gimme A Break," the project was shelved.
One year later, Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger brought ten songs from the workshop to producer Bob Avian and Michael Bennett, the director/choreographer whose status as a Broadway sensation had already been cemented by his magnum opus, "A Chorus Line," which had earned him the Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, and two Drama Desk Awards. Henry Krieger played the piano and sang the men's parts, and two performers from the workshop - Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine - sang the women's parts.
Bennett and Avian took the project on. Michael Peters was hired as co-choreographer, and the musical went through four workshops and numerous rewrites over the next eighteen months. David Geffen and the Shubert Organisation joined Bennett and Avian as producers.
Jennifer Holliday, who would make Broadway history as Effie, was hired by Bennett when he realised that no one else could sing the showstopper "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" as well as she could. Shortly before the premiere, the title was changed to "Dreamgirls."
On December 20, 1981, "Dreamgirls" opened at the Imperial Theatre. The opening night cast included Holliday, Ralph, Devine, Ben Harney, Cleavant Derricks, and Obba Babatundé.
Bennett's stature made it one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season, and it did not disappoint. "Dreamgirls" was an instant smash, earning acclaim from critics and nightly standing ovations from sold-out audiences. Venerated New York Times critic Frank Rich declared it "Broadway history
beautiful and heartbreaking ... a show that strikes with the speed and heat of lightning," and Newsweek's Jack Kroll called it "stunning and stirring."
In 1982, "Dreamgirls" was honored with a remarkable thirteen Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. The show won six Tonys: Best Book of a Musical - Tom Eyen; Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Ben Harney; Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Jennifer Holliday; Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical - Cleavant Derricks; Outstanding Lighting Design - Tharon Musser; and Outstanding Choreography - Michael Bennett & Michael Peters. "Dreamgirls" was also nominated for ten Drama Desk Awards, and won three.
Bennett's Tony Award for his choreography would be his seventh and final honor from the American Theatre Wing; "Dreamgirls" was his final production before he succumbed to complications from AIDS on July 2, 1987. He was forty-four years old.
"Dreamgirls" ran on Broadway for nearly four years, thrilling audiences for 1,521 performances, before touring the United States and traveling to Paris and Japan. Productions have since been staged as far away as Berlin and Malaysia.
Now, twenty-five years after first bringing audiences to their feet, "Dreamgirls" finally arrives on the silver screen.