<i>Dreamgirls</i> Dazzling Audiences

by unknown author

Dreamgirls, the Broadway musical which portrays a female vocal group's rise to stardom and the realities of show business it faces, is now in Japan - the staff, cast, in musicians and all - dazzling the Japanese audience with its music and dance sequences.

This is the first time for us to perform in front of a non-English-speaking audience," said Susan Beaubian who plays the part of Michelle, a member of the vocal group, Dreams, at a recently held press conference in Tokyo. Beaubian, who played the part of Corrine in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, added that she realized "the universality of the characters, and the human feelings they go through" when they were able to convey the emotions in the play to a deaf audience in Detroit assisted by sign language.

Dreamgirls, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, enjoyed 1,550 consecutive performances on Broadway during the years 1981-1985, and won the Tony and Grammy Awards in various categories in 1982. The company began its U.S. tour in October 1985, and this Tokyo performance is its first overseas presentation.

The staff, the leading actresses and actors including the musical's co-producers Marvin A. Krauss and Irving Siders, composer Henry Krieger, production supervisor Bob Avian, co-choreographer Michael Peters were present at the press conference. Deborah Burrell and Arnetia Walker, who play the parts of two other members of the Dreams, were also present along with Lawrence Clayton. Roy L. Jones and Weyman Thompson.

"Dreamgirls embodies all the 1960s images of R & B, therefore includes the impression of Ross, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and so on. It's a compound impression of everything and can't be singled out," answered Tom Eyen, the playwright and lyric writer, when asked to comment on whether Diana Ross and the vocal group, the Supremes, were the models for Effie, the musical's leading character, and the Dreams respectively.

On how to keep their slim figures, Sharon Brown, who plays the part of Effie, commented, "We don't really mean to diet. But when we are touring around the country - places, climate, water and food changing constantly - we reach a certain point where we can't take 'hotel food' anymore." Brown added that she has eaten so much Japanese food since she has arrived.

Asked to cite some inside stories, the actresses revealed a number of funny stories, one being an incident when Beaubian, during her understudy days, put on a long dress backward in a quick costume change. "The original dress had a long slit in front, you see," she added.

Dreamgirls will be presented at the Tokyo Kosei Nenkin Kaikan Hall until Nov. 19, and also from Dec. 13 till 21, and at the Showa Women's Univ. Hitomi Kinen Hall from Nov. 21 till Dec. 10. The tickets are priced at •15,000. •10,000, and •5,000. For tickets, call Isetan Ticket Center at 03-359-2200, and Ticket Pia at 03-237-9999. For further information, call the operation division of TV Asahi at 03-587-5444. (K.F.)

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