- Last Updated on 11:04 AM 03/21/12
- BY Special to the Gazette
Dreamgirls. The term has been known to illicit strong reactions: visions of sequins and fluffy hair, snippets of songs and scenes, emotional reactions to the story and a soundtrack to die for.
All this will be available live on The Prizery stage, opening Thursday and running for eight performances.
Directed by the experienced vision of Chris Jones and musically directed by the experienced hands of Chris Oliver (this pair recently brought Halifax County Little Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” to brilliant life), “Dreamgirls” promises a certain level of sensational storytelling and music.
Assistant director is Jewell Medley, who recently wrote, produced and appeared in “Behind the Makeup.” She also appeared in Halifax County Little Theatre’s blockbuster run of “A Christmas Carol.”
“Parallel to the story of this production,” said musical director Oliver, “the music paints an elaborate picture within itself, mixing together the musical elements of the 60s, from Doo-Wop to the dominate sounds of Detroit’s Motown, as well as the emergence of the soul and disco era of the 70s.”
Oliver connects with the music on a personal level.
“I can remember from childhood revisiting my mother’s old vinyl records from these two decades and getting lost in the richness that this music possessed back then. I found an utter respect for the singers, songwriters, musicians that were birthed from this style of music. I hope that the audience will be able to experience and connect with the music embedded in this show,” Oliver said.
Jones, a Halifax County native and the man behind all those Prizery summer musicals, finds joy in the process of the team that brings the show together.
“Watching Chris Oliver work the music with the amazing vocalists and seeing Pat Crew and Tricia Ricketts turn non-dancers into dancers is astounding,” Jones said. “As you listen more and more to the music, you realize how much fun it is and how it captures the 70s so well! The show’s music is great, and we have excellent singers from Martinsville, Danville, South Hill and, of course, South Boston and Halifax County.
“I saw the original production in New York in the early ‘80s. I absolutely loved the high energy and music, and I love the character of Effie and fell in love with that act one closer,’ And I’m Telling You.’ Hearing Nicole Jackson sing that song will be worth the price of admission by itself.”
Medley agreed with Jones and Oliver, saying, “You feel for the characters and their struggles through the music and the melodies. The audience is sure to laugh at Lorrell, cry for Effie, scream for Deena and feel pity for Curtis Taylor Jr. who is the catalyst for the girl group in the show.”
Oliver, who has a varied and exciting wealth of experience as a musician, has turned his expertise into more musical experience and learning for the cast.
“Working with and developing talented musicians and singers has been the most rewarding part of this process,” said Oliver. “Some of the cast hadn’t realized that they could deliver such parts as written in ‘Dreamgirls,’ but I always find a way to bring out the best musically in people.”
Like Jones, Oliver also found a gem in the storyline of Effie, the role for which Jennifer Hudson won an Academy Award in the 2006 film version.
“The audience will definitely connect with Effie’s story,” Oliver said. “Effie’s story is a complete testament to the struggles of talented artists and musicians in the music industry who get overshadowed and pushed to the side when it comes to emulating a certain look or trend. This has been a common theme with countless bands and groups, both current and past, whose most gifted and prized members that actually exude the most pure, raw and heartfelt talent get thrown away in the background because they aren’t seen as something that can be marketed within the mainstream pop culture. I believe that the audience will certainly be drawn to her story.”
IF YOU GO
“Dreamgirls” opens on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and runs for eight performances at The Prizery. Tickets may be purchased online at www.prizery.com or at The Prizery box office by calling 572-8339. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended.