Out on Film hosts 15th Anniversary screening of “Dreamgirls”

In "Dreamgirls" (2006) Beyonce played the Diana Ross-esque lead singer of a '60s singing trio in this movie based on the 1981 Broadway musical.  Photo: David James.
In "Dreamgirls" (2006) Beyonce played the Diana Ross-esque lead singer of a '60s singing trio in this movie based on the 1981 Broadway musical. Photo: David James.

Credit: DAVID JAMES

Credit: DAVID JAMES

Sheryl Lee Ralph of original Broadway cast to introduce film.

There was a moment when casting the film version of the Broadway hit, “Dreamgirls,” when writer/director Bill Condon had to choose between two unknown actresses and a relative newcomer, for the pivotal role of Effie White, one of the main characters.

Loosely based on the story of the 1960s iconic girl group the Supremes, whose breakup led to the mammoth solo career of Diana Ross, expectations for the film were high. Especially for the role of Effie, who sings the showstopper “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going,” made legendary by original Broadway cast member Jennifer Holliday. No matter what else happened in the movie version, that song had to be nailed. Audiences expected it.

“It had to be somebody who could kill that song,” Condon said Saturday in a conversation with Atlanta Out on Film executive director, Jim Farmer. “That part is one of the great mountains to climb.”

Ultimately, Condon went with the newcomer, an American Idol finalist named Jennifer Hudson.

“With Jennifer, it was all there, but it was very raw,” Condon said. “You forget just how new she was to everything.”

On May 8, viewers get a chance to see how then-newcomer Hudson turned that performance into an Oscar winner for best-supporting actress, when Out on Film and AID Atlanta hold a drive-in, 15th-anniversary screening of “Dreamgirls” at the Springs Cinema and Taphouse in Sandy Springs. The show starts at 8 p.m.

There were also a few memorable 'Idol' moments that weren't actually on the show. Season Three's Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for her performance in "Dreamgirls."
There were also a few memorable 'Idol' moments that weren't actually on the show. Season Three's Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for her performance in "Dreamgirls."

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

“We’re all just itching to get outside and be with friends now, and this felt like a good way to do it,” Farmer said. “Seeing it on screen, outside will be so much fun.”

Farmer said actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, from the original Broadway “Dreamgirls” cast will do a virtual introduction of the movie. Along with Ralph and Holliday, actress Loretta Devine was part of the original stage cast, and the show went on to win six Tony Awards almost 40 years ago when it premiered.

Even though the movie starred some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time, including Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx and Beyoncé, it was the casting of Hudson that was, at the time, a risk.

“It was making sure that she could get on that huge, fast learning curve,” Condon said. “She had never danced on stage before. I’ll never forget Beyoncé, under her breath, calling out the steps for her while we were shooting, just being very protective of her.

“Just imagine being on a set, you don’t know how cameras work, you’ve never danced,” Condon said. “When I think, at 23, the courage that it took (for Hudson) to say, ‘Yeah, I can do this,’ It really still fills me with awe.”

WHERE TO GO

“Dreamgirls”

7:30 p.m. pre-show entertainment including “Dreamgirls” costume contest. 8 p.m. screening, May 8. $50 per car with multiple passengers; Springs Cinema and Taphouse, 5920 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. aidatlanta.org/dreamgirls

All money raised will go to support AID Atlanta and Out On Film

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