Actors land dream roles in ‘Dreamgirls’
BUFFALO GROVE Wednesday Aug 8 2012 Britney Coleman playing the role of Deena, Eleasha Gamble playing the role of Effie and Rashidra Scott playing the role of Lorell rehearse a scene from Dreamgirls. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Aug. 29-Nov. 4; previews through Aug. 26
10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire
(847) 634-0200; www.marriotttheater.com
Updated: August 22, 2012 2:58PM
Four performers have dream roles in Marriott Theatre’s production of “Dreamgirls.”
“You kind of get to live out your own personal dream in ‘Dreamgirls,’” said Raena White, who plays Effie. “Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, we would really enjoy being at the top in our careers and having all the attention.”
“We’ve all been there,” said Eleasha Gamble, who takes over the role of Effie for two matinees each week. “We wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t have that drive and that passion to perform. We all come alive when we’re onstage performing.”
“’Dreamgirls is the show that I’ve wanted to do since I was 10 or 11,” said Rashidra Scott, who plays Lorrell. “I was a latchkey kid. I would come home and lock myself in my bedroom, playing the soundtrack and play out every role imaginable. Even if there was a three-person song, I would do all three people.” Surprisingly, Scott has never seen a production of the show.
The Broadway musical hit, set in the 1960s, which became an equally successful film with Jennifer Hudson in an Oscar-winning role, is about three Chicago friends who enjoy singing together but have larger ambitions. They enter a talent competition at New York’s Apollo Theater and, although they don’t win, land an ambitious manager named Curtis who starts them on a path to career success. But when an unexpected member of the group becomes the star, conflicts arise.
The show, by Henry Krieger (Music) and Tom Eyen (book and lyrics), is filled with beautiful numbers, most notably the signature song, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” It also has three very different women at its center.
White, who played Effie in a college production, described her character as an “uber-talented force. She is super young. I would say she is mature for her age but she’s still very naive. That’s why she gets taken advantage of by Curtis. I don’t think she’s an angry person. She wants to be at the top and she sees herself as having this amazing career as a lead singer.”
“She’s a young girl with lots of dreams and ambitions,” Gamble confirmed. “She knows what she wants and goes after it, and unfortunately gets taken advantage of by people around her.”
Coleman said, “Deena is starting to acknowledge her journey into womanhood. She’s incredibly passionate and driven. Through that, she takes advantage of opportunities that are given to her. We talk about her mother pushing her to shine and be the best she can be.”
“Lorrell is very young. She’s wide-eyed and bushy-tailed,” Scott said. “She looks up to Deena and Effie. She wants to be a singer. That’s all she wants to do. I feel she has most of her learning and growth throughout the show.”
All four leads have impressive professional credits.
White was in the Off-Broadway company of “Sistas” and appeared in “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at Stages St. Louis and “Shout!” at the Marriott.
Coleman’s credits include “Into the Woods” at Center Stage/Westport Country Playhouse” and “Tarzan: The Broadway Musical” at Wagon Wheel Theatre.
Scott appeared on Broadway in “Sister Act,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Hair” and “Avenue Q.”
Gamble won a 2010 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for “The Civil War” at Ford’s Theatre.
The four performers have quickly become friends and indicate that working together is also a dream.
“I’m having fun learning everything and sharing the experience with everybody,” Scott said.
“We all have a lot of our own individual shining moments,” Coleman added, “but it’s nice to know that we get to do it kind of as a family.”