Three decades since Dreamgirls opened on Broadway, launching the careers of Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine and Jennifer Holliday, the musical’s original stars reunited at Los Angeles’s Wilshire Ebell Theatre to perform at the 21st annual Divas Simply Singing benefit. Founded by Ralph, the event raises money for HIV and AIDS charities including Project Angel Food, Caring for Babies With AIDS, Minority AIDS Project, the Safe Place for Pediatric AIDS, the National Minority AIDS Council and Women Alive.
“We come together about every two years, which means we see each other more than most dysfunctional families so it’s all good,” Ralph said on the red carpet about getting together with her Dreamgirls co-stars to perform numbers from the show. Proud of the fact that she never missed any of her 1,247 performances on Broadway, and the longevity that the show has had since, she takes similar pride in the fact that Divas is “the longest running musical AIDS benefit in the country” and that it has done much to raise awareness. “Nothing breaks the silence better than big hair and attitude!” she declared.
“You never expect something you do when you’re so young to last so long,” reflected Devine about Dreamgirls. “It’s had such an incredible history with the movie and it’s performed in so many schools.” Ironically, it almost never made it out of the gate. Producer Michael Bennett came close to canceling the show in the early workshop stage, until he heard the girls sing and decided to give it another try, Devine revealed.
Also taking part were Amber Riley, Frenchie Davis, Faith Evans, Bonnie Pointer, Raven Symone, Jennifer Lewis, and Shanice Wilson, who sang “Congratulations” in tribute to the late Vesta Williams, and host Niecy Nash.
Might the original Dreamgirls take their reunion back to Broadway? Ralph, for one, loves the idea. “Bring it on!” she proclaimed. “Who else better to do it than us?
(Photo: Ryan Miller/Getty Images)