Check Out Photos of the Original Broadway Production of Dreamgirls

Archival Photos   Check Out Photos of the Original Broadway Production of Dreamgirls
The show opened at the Imperial Theatre December 20, 1981.
Jennifer Holliday and the cast of Dreamgirls Martha Swope/NYPL

The Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen musical Dreamgirls marks its 39th anniversary December 20. The show opened in 1981 starring Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Loretta Devine as “The Dreams.”

Focusing on the fictional Motown group The Dreams, famously inspired by The Supremes, Dreamgirls explores the stardom, competition, and love lives surrounding three African-American women climbing the ranks of the music industry in the ’60s and ’70s. The musical starred Holliday as Effie White, Ralph as Deena, and Devine as Lorell—the trio at the center of it all—breakout roles for each.

The original production opened December 20, 1981, at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre. Directed and co-choreographed by Michael Bennett and co-choreographed by Michael Peters, Dreamgirls featured a book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger. Nominated for 13 Tony awards including Best Musical, the show ultimately won six, including Best Book of a Musical, Best Actor for Ben Harney, Best Actress for Jennifer Holliday, and Best Featured Actor for Cleavant Derricks. The show played over 1,500 performances before closing August 11, 1985.

In addition to Holliday, Ralph, and Devine, Dreamgirls stars Obba Babatunde as C.C. White, Cleavant Derricks as James Thunder Early, and Ben Harney as Curtis Taylor, Jr. alongside Deborah Burrell, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Tony Franklin, David Thomé, Cheryl Alexander, Phylicia Rashad, Charles Bernard, Paul Binotto, Candy Darling, Ronald Dunham, Stephanie Eley, Sheila Ellis, Tenita Jordan, Linda Lloyd, Joe Lynn, Frank Mastrocola, Jamie Patterson, Wellington Perkins, Scott Plank, Brenda Pressley, Charles Randolph-Wright, Larry Stewart, and Weyman Thompson. Rounding out the company were Brenda Braxton and Milton Craig Nealy as swings.

The prodcution featured scenic design by Robin Wagner, costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge, lighting design by Tharon Musser, and sound design by Otts Munderloh with stage management by Jeff Hamlin, Zane Weiner, Frank di Filia. For the complete cast and creative team, visit

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