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Entertainment & Lifestyle

‘Dreamgirls’ brings musical drama to Akron

4/4/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Jasmin Richardson appears as Deena Jones in “Dreamgirls” at E.J. Thomas Hall April 9-10.
Photo courtesy of TrueMarketing
DOWNTOWN AKRON — “Dreamgirls” is coming to Akron with the beloved story of a fictional girl group dealing with jealousy and joy on the road to success.

The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall stage will welcome the song-packed musical April 9-10 at 7:30 p.m.

The Tony and Academy Award-winning musical tells the story of The Dreams, a female trio with their eyes set on stardom in the 1960s. Their struggles are rewarded with stardom, but it comes at a price as personalities get in the way.

The show premiered on Broadway in 1981, and the film version starring Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy was made to acclaim in 2006. Henry Krieger’s songs for the show include “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and “One Night Only.”

On tour, Houston native Jasmin Richardson plays Deena Jones, who takes center stage as the leader of the group, which leads to conflict with fellow member Effie White.

Richardson said in a phone interview from a tour stop that she loves being part of the show. She had appeared as another character in a regional production.

“I love the show, and doing it is an honor,” she said.

As one of the leads, she said she has a lot of great parts.

“My favorite part is toward the end when I get to redeem myself with Effie,” she said.

Being in the show also allows her to play dress-up to the extreme.

“I have a lot of costume changes,” she said. “I leave the stage and change about 20 times. That’s a lot for one show.”

For those who have seen the film but not the stage production, Richardson said there are some differences. For one, there is more music in the show, and most of the dialogue is in songs rather than spoken.

“It’s pretty much like an opera,” she said.

But the music is firmly entrenched in the Motown era of the 1970s and ’60s, she said.

The current tour also features the use of video effects that were created by Howard Werner, who was the video designer for “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” on Broadway.

Richardson said the show has endured and delighted over the years because of its characters.

“People relate to the characters,” she said. “They are real people, and you can kind of see yourself in all of them, and the music is so powerful. It’s incredible — you’ll leave the show singing the songs and remembering these characters. The characters are so real and the music is so classic.”

Tickets for “Dreamgirls” are on sale now and range from $34 to $54. Tickets are available at the Thomas Hall Ticket Office, 198 Hill St., and all TicketMaster outlets, and by calling 800-745-3000. Groups of 15 or more should call 855-824-3405. To order tickets online, visit ticketmaster.com.

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