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Dreamgirls in Concert (2001 Concert Cast)

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Audio CD, February 26, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the 20 years since it opened on Broadway, DREAMGIRLS has acquired a mythic reputation few musicals achieve. With a vibrant score by Henry Krieger that captures the Motown sound of the 60's, coupled with a backstage story full of ebullience, sadness, and soul, and legendary staging and direction by Michael Bennett, it told the story of a singing group's rise from obscurity to pop stardom. The original cast album spawned the #1 R&B single, "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," (sung by Jennifer Holliday), a Grammy Award, won six 1982 Tonys, and played more than 1,500 performances. What made it great can be experienced COMPLETE for the first time in this 2 CD anniversary recording of a one-time only performance produced by The Actor's Studio and starring a host of today's most coveted Tony Award-winning talent: Heather Headley (Elton John/Tim Rice's AIDA) as Lorrell, Audra McDonald (three-time Tony winner and RAGTIME star)as Deena, Lillias White (THE LIFE) as Effie, plus Darius De Haas (as C.C. White), Norm Lewis (as Curtis Taylor, Jr.), Billy Porter (as James Thunder Early), James Stovall (as Marty), and Tamara Tunie (as Michelle Morris), plus Brian Stoke Mitchell (RAGTIME, KISS ME KATE) and others.

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A Chorus Line may be better known, but Dreamgirls was a towering achievement for director Michael Bennett. Loosely based on the Supremes' story, the 1982 musical told a typical show-biz tale of fame, backbiting, and survival. As is often the case for one-night only events, the cast in this concert version (recorded in New York on September 24, 2001) is led by an eye-popping assortment of Broadway powerhouses: Lillias White (The Life), Audra McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine), and Heather Headley (Ragtime). McDonald reveals a previously undisclosed comic streak, while Headley confirms her status as a rising star. Reprising the role of Effie Melody White (created by Jennifer Holliday), White belts the classic "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." But the beauty of Dreamgirls is that it's so packed with catchy, Motown-influenced R&B numbers that each lead can sink her teeth into some prime material and get a turn in the spotlight. This double-CD set really makes you wish you'd been there when the show was recorded: you can hear the crowd going berserk at times, and the temptation is strong to do the same thing in the comfort of your living room. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

Disc: 1
1. I'm Looking For Something, Baby
2. Goin' Downtown
3. Takin' The Long Way Home
4. Move (You're Steppin' On My Heart)
5. Scene: 'Fifty Bucks Says The Dreamettes Don't Win'
6. Fake Your Way To The Top
7. Scene: 'It Ain't Working, Marty'
8. Cadillac Car
9. Cadillac Car (On The Road)
10. Cadillac Car (Recording Studio)
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Opening Act II: Dreams Medley
2. Scene: 'Effie White Is The Best Singer You're Gonna Find'
3. I Am Changing
4. Vogue Sequence
5. When I First Saw You
6. Ain't No Party
7. I Meant You No Harm
8. The Rap
9. I Miss You, Old Friend
10. One Night Only
See all 14 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 26, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B00005Y4P4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,574 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on March 8, 2002
Format: Audio CD
DREAMGIRLS may be the closest thing Broadway has ever come to an authentic and richly textured pop/R&B opera. There are more than three dozen numbers in the show, which is almost entirely sung through.Not only do the songs reflect a variety of musical traditions, but they have a kind of musical sophistication, with key musical and verbal leitmotifs ("You were wonderful Miss Jones," "You're bringing us down," "It's just showbiz") accruing new meanings as they're repeated throughout the show. Most of the songs are sung as numbers by the Dreams and the R&B groups they meet, but they comment in fascinatingly textured ways upon the action of the show's major characters. Unfortunately the original show was given an extremely truncated cast recording that beautifully demonstrated the skills of the legendary Jennifer Holiday in the central role of Effie, but didn't give the marvelous libretto and score their due.
Twenty years later, we finally have a full recording of DREAMGIRLS--with all of its complexity restored. It is hard to imagine that for a score of years people who were not lucky enough to have seen the original show on Broadway had no idea of the terrifically complex ensemble numbers such as "It's All Over" and "Heavy," which add so much to the characterization and meaning of the work. Some of the Dreams' hit numbers from when they become famous which exist only in a few tantalizing musical phrases--"Step On Over," "I'm Somebody"--are now available for the first time on recording. This is really a superb show, and more than worthy of a fullscale revival.
And what a dream of a cast we have on this concert recording! Lilias White is a superb Effie White: although her voice, while magnificent in its own right, doesn't have quite the power of Jennifer Holliday's (but then, whose does?
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lopez on June 11, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This Dreamgirls Benefit Concert was a DREAM come true. Hundreds of Broadway Divas lined the stage to belt their hearts out for this "One Night Only" event.
In turn we are now blessed with this definitive, complete recording of this cult classic, dialogue and all. This is one of my favorite cds to listen to on long road trips because you take the entire journey, or highs and lows along with them. And there are MANY highs and lows on this cd!
Let me start at the beginnging. The excitement, the energy is all reflected on this cd. Every interpretation is rich and sincere. It sounds like you're listening to a reading. All the actor's performances are nearly flawless, and that's not shocking seeing the AMAZING cast that was assembled for this event.
Lilias White, the Diva behind "The Life" among others is Effie Melody White and a force to be reckoned with. Her Effie is night and day to Holliday's Effie. Holliday held back all throughout Act One with the exception of "Move" and then knocked us out in "And I'm Telling You" but White does not hold ANYTHING back! She's brassy, she's pushy, she's the Diva Effie. Now who knows which interpretation is preferred, but I prefer White's entire interpretation as opposed to Holliday's. White can also act and emote rings around Holliday's powerhouse voice. You can feel White all throughout the story. From the meeker subtle diva, to the diva fighting for her place in the group, and secretly fighting to keep the father of her child. It's White's nonchalant ghetto-divaness that makes this all work. We feel hometown, mo-town, singing doo wops on the fire hydrants.
The hometown feel is amplified by Heather Headley's hilarious portrayal of Lorell.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. G. Oles on April 21, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
DREAMGIRLS is simply the best, most exciting, and most moving backstage musical to appear since GYPSY in 1959.
The original Broadway cast album was meticulously produced at the very end of the LP era with the flawless original cast, but for obscure reasons (having to do with LP sound quality) only a fraction of the score made it onto record.
Anyone who saw DREAMGIRLS on Broadway or elsewhere knows how much great material is missing from that album, so it's a blessing to now have something close to Eyen, Krieger, and Bennett's masterpiece complete on two CDs.
This is a live recording, so the vocals sometimes lack the polish of the studio version, but the electricity of the occasion, the smart casting, and the thrilling playing of the orchestra more than make up for the occasional vocal glitch.
MacDonald's voice isn't really right for Deena (listen to Sheryl Lee Ralph's brilliant near-impersonation of Diana Ross on the Broadway version) but this resourceful singer nearly always makes you forget this. White is terrific, though sometimes lacking Holliday's unique combination of brute force and subtle shadings of tone. Heather Headley is fine as Lorelle, but doesn't banish memories of Loretta Devine's original.
Every member of the cast is a superb singing actor, but their strenuous efforts make you realize how wickedly difficult this score is to sing. I think this wonderful show is rarely produced only because it's so hard to find performers who are up to singing it.
A CHORUS LINE may have been a phenomenon, but DREAMGIRLS was Bennett's masterpiece -- and not just because Krieger's music is so much better than Hamlisch's. The story, the lyrics, the characters all fuse into a perfect whole, thrilling and funny and finally incredibly moving.
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