Cape Fear Regional Theatre will kick off its 2017-18 season Sept. 14 with “Dreamgirls,” the Tony Awardwinning Broadway musical that follows the rise of The Dreams, a singing trio, in the 1960s.
Some audience members may be more familiar with the 2006 film version starring Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce than the Broadway show decades before starring Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine.
The story is based loosely on Diana Ross and the Supremes and other girl groups in the Motown era who found that stardom often came with compromises, said Mary Catherine Burke, CRFT’s new artistic director. Every character has a compromise to make to achieve their dream.
“It’s a film onstage,” Burke said. Director Suzanne Agins does “an exquisite job of changing the perspective of the audience with constant motions.”
The progression of time from the ’60s R&B era when The Dreams are discovered to the ’70s disco era will make the production fun for the audience with a variety of music, dance and costume changes, Burke said.
“The thing that is most exciting,” Burke said, “is 20 people singing their faces off with a live band of nine onstage.”
The large cast of 14 local and six non-local performers is indicative of one reason CFRT has been so successful and still thriving after 55 years, said Leslie Flom, marketing director for CFRT. “The whole cast, mostly young, are representatives of local, regional and national artists working side by side,” she said.
Many in the cast said being in “Dreamgirls” was on their bucket list of shows.
“The underlying theme of the show is that dream of performing,” said Ricardo Morgan, who plays Tiny Joe Dixon. A local performer and veteran of several CFRT productions, Morgan said it resonates with the audience because “everybody, no matter what walk of life, has a dream.”
Darius Jordan Lee, from Charlotte, said playing C.C. White “is one of my dream roles. Since I was a kid growing up in my grandfather’s church, I knew I wanted to be a performer.”
For cast member Marktavious Patton, who plays Curtis Taylor Jr., performing onstage is a dream he relates to his own life. From Newark, New Jersey, Patton is facing his own compromise to reach his dream of entertaining audiences like he did last year as the Tin Man in CFRT’s production of “The Wiz.”
Despite having a master’s degree in technology management and a pending job offer working for Amazon in Arizona, Patton said his ultimate dream is to make a name for himself and his family from the stage.
“I am from a poor family, I was the first to graduate college, and I faced prejudices,” Patton said. Although grateful for his opportunities and the pending offer for a “solid career,” he said, “my compromise is that it is not what I want to do.” On the heels of what he believes will be a successful run in “Dreamgirls,” Patton has given himself a time limit to book another show before his deadline to report to Arizona. “If I book a show, I’m gonna go for my dream.”
The entire cast has that kind of passion for performing and is very talented, said Burke. The cast includes leads Nattalyee Randall as Effie White, Diamond Essence White as Deena Jones, Stephanie Rocio as Lorrell Robinson, Kwame Remy as Jimmy Early, and Wilson J. Randall as Marty.
“Dreamgirls” book and lyrics are by Tom Eyen, music by Henry Krieger. The show is choreographed by Randy A. Davis.
“The cast is phenomenal,” Burke said. “You’ll leave here singing.”
“Dreamgirls” runs through Oct. 8. There will be a Military Appreciation Night on Sept. 20 with childcare and a pre-show reception. Girls Glam Night will be Sept. 22 with a pre-show hair and makeup party.
For ticket information, call the box office at (910) 323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org.