Dreamgirls, you make me feel brand new.
I truly feel like I just did a line of cocaine the size of my arm.
Or rather what I THINK that would feel like……
‘Dreamgirls’. I liked it. In case you can’t tell.
I had never seen ‘Dreamgirls’ on stage before. I grew up with the album which I never really embraced to the full extent of it’s magic. When listening to cast recordings as a kid I never listened to the whole CD unless I sat down with a copy of the libretto (the local library had a fairly extensive collection of like twenty libretti) and follow along with the CD from the overture to the end. It was the only way I could experience a show from beginning to end. That’s how I first experienced “Gypsy” and “Funny Girl”. Usually on Friday nights, my family would go out for Mexican food then we’d come home and I’d lock myself in my room for three hours and take the journey of whatever show I’d picked out.
Sadly, however, the library never offered ‘Dreamgirls’…. so when listening to the CD I’d skip over any song that didn’t immediately start upbeat, I did this with everything….upbeat song…. skip…. upbeat song…. skip…. skip…. skip…. skip…. it wasn’t until I accidentally saw that famous video from the Tony’s that I ever heard of “And I’m Telling You” and my head exploded into all sorts of goo and puss and my mom had to put it back together in time for my spring dance recital.
Then of course, I grew up and moved to New York where I learned a lot more about a lot of things like what happens when you drink an entire bottle of Jack Daniels, or where to buy cheap but attractive underwear, or that ‘Dreamgirls’ is an awesome show. Still though. Never saw it. Just listened. A lot. And stayed up late at night and imagined how I’d do “The Break Up” scene (really well, by the way)
By the time the movie came out I considered myself a pretty well versed ‘Dreamgirls’ fan. I didn’t know the Michael Bennett choreography…. or rather, I didn’t know all of it but like…. I got it.
The movie. Loved it. Saw it twice in theaters. Got the soundtrack. Had it all on my iPod. Continued to revisit the original. Delicious.
But tonight, I feel like I experienced ‘Dreamgirls’ for the first time. The Apollo Theater. Gorgeous and epic and historical. Crowding into the doors with an audience full of people just as excited as I was, all perplexed after having traveled via subway uptown to see a classic Broadway musical. Got to my seat, the lights went out, and the opening music started. BUM BUM BUM BUM. People went nuts. I went nuts.
“WELCOME TO THE APOLLO THEATER” the voice of the Emcee character exclaims in this weird metaphysical, groovy way.
The show started and I was there. Moment by moment I felt myself being present like I never am. 99% of the time when I go see shows I’m thinking about tomorrow’s lunch, or what movie I want to see on Saturday, or how much I liked that polo shirt my mom bought me at the outlet in Destin, Florida back in 1998 but tonight I was so there. Oh Effie we all really DO got pain.
There was a moment tonight…. you all know the moment…. when Effie is sitting at the make-up table, and I knew what was coming, its what the main reason you come see ‘Dreamgirls’. Any minute she would look up in the imaginary mirror and say “Curtis was supposed to love me”. BUM BUM BUM BUM. You could feel the tension from the stage, from the audience, everywhere. SAY IT EFFIE! SAY IT!!!!!!!! Then she said it… loud and clear with the orchestra jumping in right when they’re supposed to…. BUM BUM BUM BUM…. and there was this huge cheer. Massive. Like you hear in a sport arena when somebody scores a touchdown. Everybody together. Huge. It seemed as though every single person in the audience, applauded, yelled, whistled, stomped. We bonded together right then as little boys with librettos and cast recordings in our bedrooms after Mexican food, as lost subway passengers…. the D train to WHERE?, as guests in a historical landmark, as boys and girls of New York City, and praised the awesomeness of a great musical.
It was just what I wanted.