On December 20, 1981 at the Imperial Theater in New York City a star was born and her name was Jennifer Holliday. The show was Dreamgirls and it would become the catalyst for the careers of some of today's most respected and beloved performers. Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine, and Jennifer Holliday were among hundreds of talented black performers in New York City, but they were the lucky ones to be cast in the new Michael Bennett musical that would change the sound of musical theater forever.
Those theatergoers in 1981 who witnessed Jennifer Holliday's heart wrenchng signature song "And I Am Telling You(I'm Not Going) all agree that they were not prepared for what they saw and count it as one of the most magical moments in musical theater history. After winning 6 Tony Awards, one for Jennifer's performance as Effie and a Grammy Award for "And I Am Telling You", 25 years later Ms. Holliday brings her star making role to the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia.
I attended the opening night performance last night at the Fox Theater and I have to tell you seeing Jennifer perform Effie live was unlike anything I've ever experienced at the theater. 25 years later Jennifer Holliday still manages to perform the role as if it were her first time. It's clearly obvious that she's the star of the show and a huge reason why people are flocking to the theater to see Dreamgirls post the success of the film. But she is supported by some of the most talented performers in the business. I would be remiss not to mention the vocal prowess of broadway diva Brandi Chavonne Massey (Wicked, Aida, Hair), who plays Lorell, Cindy Herron (formerly a member of En Vogue) who plays Deena, Devon Watson who plays C.C. , and broadway veteran Eugene Fleming who plays James Thunder Early.
This is the second live production that I've seen of Dreamgirls, the first was the amazing cast from Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia. Although the Atlanta production was good it sometimes suffered from slow pacing and sound problems, all of which I'm sure will be resolved as the run continues. Rumor has it that this may be Jennifer's last time performing the role she created 25 years ago. I honestly don't even want to think about that, but if it's true she has definitely given us a performance that people will be talking about for another 25 years.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer backstage after the show, and although she was obviously worn out after her three hour performance she still took the time to speak with me and pose for photographs which you can view above.If you are in Atlanta between now and July 29th make sure you get a ticket to see Dreamgirls, you won't be dissapointed.But for those of you who can't make it I have something extra special for you, just click here .