Harlem Repertory Theatre opens its 2012 season with a chamber version of the musical “Dreamgirls,” which begins previews Friday at the 70-seat 133rd Street Arts Center (308 W. 133rd St.).
Drawn from the true story of the Supremes, the Tony-winning 1981 Broadway show, which became an Oscar-winning movie in 2006, follows the rise of a black girl group from obscurity to chart-topping success. Its delicious score by Henry Krieger (music) and Tom Eyer (book and lyrics) is filled with rousing R&B and pop songs, including “One Night Only,” “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” and “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” the showstopper sung by Effie (played by Dion Millington).
In this revival, Acts I and II have distinctly different seating arrangements. “The first act of ‘Dreamgirls’ is essentially a bright and ebullient rags-to-riches tale,” notes director and choreographer Keith Lee Grant, adding that the latter half depicts a darker examination of the characters’ various struggles and conflicts.
The first half will be set in a traditional proscenium arrangement to physically distance theatergoers from the action. The second act will be staged in the round to boost the intimacy.
The shift, according to Grant, will allow the audience to experience the characters’ various trials and passions more profoundly.
“They are being acted out,” he says, “only inches away from all around you, behind and above your seats.”
“Dreamgirls” will run through Sept. 15 and return Oct. 5-21. Tickets are $20; (212) 868-4444.
- Look of the Day: Dreamgirl (fabsugar.com)
- The Harlem Repertory Theatre presents an intimate chamber version of DREAMGIRLS (harlemworldmag.com)