TPAC raises the curtain for ‘Dreamgirls’

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Tennessee Performing Arts Center will host the smash hit musical Dreamgirls on October 26-31. The original Broadway production of Dreamgirls opened on Dec. 20, 1981, at Imperial Theatre in Augusta, Ga., and went on to win six Tony Awards in 1982.

Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, Dreamgirls tells the story of an up-and-coming, 1960s singing girl group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. Hopeful talents Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson and Effie White are performing as The Dreamettes when ambitious agent Curtis Taylor, Jr. discovers them.

He lands them a job as backup singers for the soul and rock ‘n’ roll sensation James “Thunder” Early and begins to guide their quickly rising career. However, when the beautiful Deena emerges as the star of the group rather than the full-voiced Effie, the girls are brought to personal and professional crossroads. 

Moya Angela plays Effie, and she can relate to the emotional upheaval experienced by the talented though temperamental character, made famous by Academy Award-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson in the 2006 film adaption.

"This character hits really close to home," she said. "I have to tap into many emotions. As soon as I got this part, I knew I was going to go to places in my heart that were hard. I wanted to make it as real as possible. When I’m really crying and really emoting in that moment, I have to go there. I’ve had my heart broken; I’ve had my friends leave me and betray me; I’ve been angry in situations where maybe I shouldn’t have been."

Angela also portrayed Effie during the most recent revival of the show, which occurred at New York City landmark Apollo Theatre. This particular story, she feels, is one that will resonate with a wide audience.

Dreamgirls is a story for everyone," Angela said. "There are beautiful costumes, there’s wonderful music. A lot of the people from the original are working on this production. It’s very minimalist. It focuses on the music, the costumes and the acting."

She adds, "The story is about the music business, but everyone can relate. When you’re doing something and trying so hard to be successful at it, people may bring you down or pull you away from the goal. But there’s always a moment when you get that second chance."

Angela has marked a number of professional milestones lately. She joined this production from The Lion King’s Gazelle and Cheetah tours sponsored by Disney, where she performed multiple roles over a two-year span. Though she’s a native of Indianapolis, Ind., Angela can claim ties to Music City and looks forward to winning their applause.

"I know a lot about Nashville, and I love it," she said. "My sister attended Tennessee State University. There was one moment in my life when I wanted to move to Nashville. I’ve never performed there, but it’s such a big music city and I can’t wait to perform for the audience."

Dreamgirls will play October 26 through 31 at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday; 6:30 p.m. on Sunday with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Ticket prices range from $27.50 to $72.50 and will be available at the TPAC box office (505 Deaderick Street), Davis-Kidd Booksellers in The Mall at Greenhills, by visiting tpac.org, or by calling 615-782-4040. Group orders of 20 or more may be placed by calling 615-782-7060.