*Every little girl’s dream is to be a “dream girl.” That is what I said to myself (and those around me) as I watched the inspiring Los Angeles premiere of the award winning musical “Dreamgirls.” The ground-breaking multi-Tony Award winning show stars Syesha Mercado (as Deena Jones), Adrienne Warren (as Lorrell Robinson) and Moya Angela (as Effie White). “Dreamgirls,” which started its’ tour November 7, 2009 in New York, runs in Los Angeles at the CTG/Ahmanson Theater (135 North Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012) until Sunday, April 4, 2010. The red carpet arrivals include the original “Dreamgirls,” Nia Long, Kim Whitley, Kenny Lattimore and Courtney B. Vance and wife Angela Bassett.
The vocals where unbelievable, the dance routines were powerful – especially when they mixed modern dance steps with those of the original show; the backdrop was an impressive piece of movable art decorated with magnificent lighting and images; the costumes were breath-taking, and the orchestra all made the Los Angeles production of “Dreamgirls” one of the best musicals I have ever seen.
Moya Angela vocally handled the role of Effie White, effortlessly. I came to the show sure she could not touch the vocals of the original Effie, Jennifer Holliday who was there at the premiere show with fellow original Dreamgirls Loretta Devine (Lorrell) and Sheryl Lee Ralph (Deena), but Moya did just that – and more. Her performances of the legendary Broadway tunes “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “I Am Changing” and “One Night Only” were so powerful it’s hard to believe that human vocal cords can do such things.
Chester Gregory who plays James “Thunder” Early not only gave an outstanding performance with his dance moves and vocal range, but he also showed comedic timing as well. His portrayal of his character seemed to combine Prince, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding and Little Richard – it was truly amazing to see (and hear).
The Los Angeles production is produced by John Breglio and Vienna Waits Productions, with Robert Longbottom as director/choreographer – Shane Sparks is co-choreographer. Sam Davis serves as musical director.
“Dreamgirls” started as a musical project for comedian/actress/singer Nell Carter, but she decided to follow the success of her television series and abandoned the project. Tony Award winning theatrical director Michael Bennett, who started the project for Nell, received funding from David Geffen (Geffen Records), and support from ABC Entertainment and Metro Media, for the renamed project “Dreamgirls.” The script was rewritten to accommodate three ladies (who could act, sing and dance) and as a result Loretta Devine, Jennifer Holliday and Sheryl Lee Ralph were casted. On December 20, 1981 “Dreamgirls” premiered and ran until August 11, 1985 – winning six Tony Awards.
Co-founder Geffen later leased the rights to DreamWorks SKG to take “Dreamgirls” to the big-screen. Jennifer Hudson was casted as Effie, Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell and Beyonce’ Knowles as Deena. The movie premiered December 25, 2006 and won two Academy Awards launching the careers of both Hudson and Rose.
For more information on the Los Angeles production of “Dreamgirls” at the CTG/Ahmanson Theatre log onto www.CenterTheaterGroup.org.
Smooth Jazz vocalist Kathy Sanborn releases ‘Small Galaxy’ on Pacific Coast Jazz
*With her love for music, smooth Jazz singer Kathy Sanborn delivers a personal look into her creative mind and vocal style with a sophomore release, “Small Galaxy” (Pacific Coast Jazz). The CD offers ten tantalizing selections.
“This is my second album…it’s a feel good album,” Sanborn said about her newest album. “I feel I have a lot to offer people to motivate them. What I want to say (with the CD) is it’s a small world, that we live in a small galaxy. ’Small Galaxy”’ is the first time I wrote for an album and it came out the blue.”
Set to hit the streets April 6, 2010, “Small Galaxy” is full of “feel-good” songs. My favorites on the CD include “Himalaya” for its sweet Pop/Jazz feel and “Be Coolin’” because it provokes images of tropical island scenes.
Kathy Sanborn, also a pianist, said she wanted to perform since she was a child. “I would perform in the mirror. It was just in me to let it blossom. I took piano and singing lessons,” she recalled.
Learn more about Kathy or hear sound clips of the CD by logging onto www.KathySanborn.com.