Anika Noni Rose, Beyoncé Knowles and Jennifer Hudson star in "Dreamgirls."
This Christmas, 25 years after its historic Broadway debut, the film adaptation of the Tony Award winning musical "Dreamgirls" will hit the silver screen and is already hotly tipped to be one of THE films to beat come Oscar time next year.
Til now though the only official thing from the film that we've seen has been a graphics-only teaser trailer essentially announcing the project. Well, under the sky of a quite thoroughly rain-soaked Downtown Los Angeles last night, a group of several hundred press - including myself and several other net & print notables - got to attend a surprisingly large and swanky party Dreamworks held at the famed Orpheum Theatre. The object of the night was to give us all a sneak preview of the film and it sure was a treat.
Beyonce Knowles, Anika Noni Rose, and former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson assume the roles of Deena, Lorrell and Effie - The Dreamettes - in the film. The trio, along with Jamie Foxx who plays the group's manager Curtis Taylor Jr. were all in attendance. Eddie Murphy didn't appear though Foxx did treat the crowd to a pretty good impression of the actor.
Parts of the film are being shot at that theatre and all of us got treated to a performance of the song "Step Into The Bad Side". Initially we saw a few scant seconds of footage of Jamie Foxx and two other guys starting the song as a dance around the back entrance of that very theatre. As we watched, we got to see the song continue on the stage where the Dreamettes in glittering red dresses sang whilst wildly kicking backup dancers in suits performed all sorts of gravity-defying action in the background.
Famed choreographer Fatima Robinson (Black Eyed Peas, Will Smith, Prince) has done all the dance numbers that will be seen in the film, landing the job after putting together a winning test tape done to this very song which the filmmakers loved. The filmmakers themselves were on hand, each of them introduced by the Oscar-winning and deservedly acclaimed director Bill Condon ("Gods & Monsters", "Kinsey") who seems to be having the time of his life doing this project.
As I'm only mildly familiar with the original stage production, I began asking people in the hall about what they thought of it, especially those who were big fans of the original show. All responses ranged from impressed to uber-excited. Everything seems poised on this film to be as big a critical, commercial, and hopefully as award-winning as 2002's "Chicago" - if not more so.
Many were also impressed by B-roll footage of behind the scenes action playing on screens around the party tent, along with the various lush costumes and mini models of the sets in the film which were on display. Most of these models were recreations of lavish performances arenas from the biggest days of Motown, and all will be seen in the final product. One such theatre where the title song of the film is performed has the trio in sexy white with hints of blue dresses, big black wigs and performing in a ritzy dinner theatre where table and wall lights create the effect that the girls are literally floating on a starfield whilst performing their number.
In the end it was super impressive, a great kick off that promises great things from the project and should be one of THE films to look out for come year's end. For more information on the film, be sure to check out its official site.
Author: Garth Franklin
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