Who knew that right under my very nose I had a spy!
My new co-worker, Dino-Ray, read my previous blog item about Dreamgirls and casually let slip that HE’D ACTUALLY SEEN THE MOVIE ALREADY!
So herewith are some of Dino’s thoughts on Dreamgirls. Keep in mind this is not a review but merely a taste for those of us anxious for this movie to be brilliant. You should also know that in addition to being a snappy dresser, Dino is young — when I asked if he’d seen Grease, he said, “You mean the old movie?”
Take it away, Dino:
A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to catch a test screening
for Dreamgirls…and it was a wonderful journey through the bellows
of ’50s girl groups, ’60s mellowness, ’70s mirrorballed glamour and
most of all, it was the epitome of divaism.
Honestly, I thought it was a breath of musical fresh air from previous
movie musicals like Rent and Phantom. But I wasn’t necessarily wowed
by it. I loved the music and I loved how Beyonce wasn’t the main
focus of the film. Well, she eventually became the main focus in the
second half. As for the “American Idol” alum, Jennifer Hudson, she
amazed me. She was sassy, she outsang Beyonce and she has some decent
acting skills. And by the way, Beyonce said the “F” word and smoked a
cigarette in the cut I saw. So much for that good-girl sex kitten
I don’t want to say that any of these actors had an Oscar-worthy
performance or anything, but Hudson did well for her first time out
of the gates. In fact, at the end of the first act when she sang
“And I Am Telling You” the whole audience started clapping as if we
were at an actual Broadway production. That was pretty damn good.
She gave the song that was originally perfected by Jennifer Holliday
a lot of justice.
I absolutely enjoyed the music. I am a big fan of funk, R&B, soul and
all that stuff, so that part of the movie was a huge plus for me. There
were times when I actually wanted them to sing rather than act and
vice versa. So that imbalance didn’t sit too well with me.
Nonetheless, there may be an Oscar hidden in the veins of this movie
somewhere — I just can’t figure out where.
The audience was very receptive to that, but when the characters
burst out into song out of nowhere, everyone in the audience started
giggling. For one, I thought this was immature, because it’s a musical.
Wouldn’t people expect that? Even so, I partly agree with
the audience, because these moments were a bit awkward. A lot of it
didn’t flow too well (i.e. the transitions from the musical numbers
to acting – it was a bit abrupt). But I did see a version of the
film that is definitely going to be edited more – so I guess you have
to take that into consideration.
Jaime Foxx was good, but I wasn’t in awe of his acting abilities.
In fact, I wasn’t excited about his performance in Ray. As for Eddie
Murphy, he really surprised me….it’s a far cry from Pluto Nash and
I could go on and on, but overall I liked the film. It’s not one of
the best musical films I’ve seen but it ranks in the “above average”
category. I am a Bill Condon fan (i.e. Gods and Monsters) so with him
attached to this, I knew it wouldn’t be a hot mess.
Thanks, Dino. For more from the mind of Dino-Ray, visit his Web site here.
I can hardly wait to see Jennifer Hudson wow everyone in “Dreamgirls.” She was fabulous on “American Idol.” Thanks for the insight, Dino. Now, Chad’s starting to get his own dog pound!
Saw the original production in New York…although Jennifer Holiday was no longer in the show. A tall thinner woman played the part and I was disappointed. Chad, do you know who her replacement was? I feel like I saw Jennifer Holiday do the part because she was all over the tv (Tony’s etc.) doing “And I’m Telling You…” Jennifer lost alot of weight and had a short-lived disco career, I think, after that. Can’t wait to see the movie!
Dog pound! I love it. It’s a little Randy Jackson, but at least here, Dog is spelled DOG and not DAWG.
As for Jennifer Holliday’s replacements on Broadway, there’s a good chance, Peter, that you saw Sheila Ellis, who was Holliday’s understudy (and a San Francisco home town girl). Other possibilities are Julia McGirt, Roz Ryan or Vanessa Townsell.
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Sorry. I did not replace Jen on Broadway. That was Vanessa Townsell, who only lasted a very short stint. I left the show at the same time as Jen did. Then, went on to star in the Parisian version of Your Arm’s Too Short To Box With God. I was understudy to Jen Holiday and went on as Effie enough that Theater World gave me co-credit for the role. It’s great being a part of Broadway History. And it’s even *better* being one of San Francisco’s own!!! I was recently inducted into Balboa High’s Hall of Merit and co-starred in San Francisco’s production of CROWNS! For which we won an Outer Critic’s Circle Ensemble Cast award.
The tall girl you refer to is Vanessa Townsell,she did only last a short while and I replaced her. I was Vanessa’s understudy. I left the show went on the road with Richard
Pryor for the summer, went back in the show in the fall as the lead. I just recently went back to my life in theatre after taking a sabbatical to raise my son. I won a Helen
Hayes Award for best actress in a musical for my performance as “Caroline” in “Caroline or Change” at Studio Theatre in 2007. I just released a new CD entitled “Keeping
on Track” on Double Dawg Records.