Original ‘Dreamgirls’ cast reunites for Broadway Cares benefit
Loretta Devine, Jennifer Holliday and Sheryl Lee Ralph shared stories and sang in the virtual reunion
Dreamgirls “will never leave you.” The original cast of the hit Broadway musical reunited for a virtual benefit on Sunday for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Streaming from the stage at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theater (home of Aladdin on Broadway), the RWQuarantunes concert raised over $1.3M for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The five-hour concert featured appearances from vocal powerhouses Deborah Cox, Heather Headley, Stephanie Mills, and more. The highlight moment from the concert, however, was when the original cast of the Broadway hit Dreamgirls reunited for the 40th anniversary of the show.
Via Zoom, the show’s original stars Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Loretta Devine discussed the history of the beloved musical and even performed some of the hit songs from the show including Holiday’s signature song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
The vocal gymnastics the song requires may have helped Jennifer Hudson, who sang it in the 2006 movie version of Dreamgirls, win her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Ralph shared, “I cannot believe it’s 40 years this year. I’m so thankful the three of us are able to remain in contact with each other all these years and do what we do in memory of those we lost from our company. We lost one-third of our original company.”
Holliday gave Ralph the credit for keeping the gang so close after all those years. She chimed in, saying, “That’s because of you, Sheryl Lee,” She continued, “Sheryl Lee is what you call the alumni queen — the one from college where you be wanting to forget everything [and she’s] ‘Excuse me, do you know what is coming up in three months?'”
She continued, “In the early months of the pandemic, she would reach out and send me a message: ‘You don’t have to speak to me, just let me know you’re OK’… Because I’m not on social media that much… There’s been that constant thread of communication. And by having the Divas Foundation, she’s pulled us, Loretta and I, in. She’s raised a lot of money, not just for Broadway Cares, but a whole lot of organizations.”
During the concert, star James Monroe Iglehart, known for originating the role of the Genie in Aladdin on Broadway, shared how important Dreamgirls was to young Black theatre artists.
“That’s the show that made most Black kids go, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has raised over $300M since its inception, and is “one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.” Through their work, the organization helps to provide people of every background, “lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling, and emergency financial assistance.”
For more information on Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and how to donate, head to their official website, here.
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