The musical Dreamgirls had its Broadway opening on December 20, 1981. It would win six Tony Awards, including Best Choreography and three acting awards, but it lost out to Nine for Best Musical. It ran for nearly four years, closing in August 1985. 25 years later the movie version opened, also at Christmastime.
The show is probably best known for 20-year- old Jennifer Holliday's powerful star turn singing the gut-wrenching And I Am Telling You. It received extensive airplay on the New York radio stations I listened to, WBLS and WKTU, and I repeatedly saw the video of her performance from the 1982 Tony Awards at Uncle Charlie's bar. Unfortunately, she sat out the performance on the night I took my boyfriend to see the show for his birthday in the summer of 1982 (it was his first Broadway show). I stewed for the entire show.
Two years after Dreamgirls closed its acclaimed director/choreographer, Michael Bennett, died at the age of 44 from AIDS. In the 1990 movie Longtime Companion, about the impact of AIDS on a group of friends,the title song Dreamgirls was featured in one scene, playfully lip-synched by one of the characters.
The movie Dreamgirls starred Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson (who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress), Eddie Murphy & Jamie Foxx. It took years of twists and turns before the movie reached theaters. (It took even longer for Nine to make it to the silver screen - three years longer than Dreamgirls.) I didn't like it nearly as much as the Broadway production and found the ending (when Jamie Foxx's character realized he had fathered a daughter - which wasn't in the Broadway version) particularly ludicrous. At least when I saw it I didn't have to worry about whether Jennifer Hudson would be in the show!