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Dreamgirls

By Gary Wien

originally published: 04/20/2015

Dreamgirls“We try to do things we think are innovative and interesting and we don’t run away from them because of their size,” explained Sam Scalamoni, Artistic Director of Skyline Theatre Company in Fair Lawn, NJ.  This April, the company presents Dreamgirls, winner of six Tony Awards, which is based on R&B acts like The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, and Jackie Wilson.  

The story follows a young female singing trio from Chicago called “The Dreams” who become music superstars. 

Even with unforgettable hits such as “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “One Night Only,” and “Listen,” the show is rarely performed — mainly due to the costs involved in staging it.  Skyline has decided to strip the show down and simply focus on the story, the music, and the costumes — many, many costumes.

Skyline ran a KickStarter crowdfunding campaign last year to help raise funds for this production.  Most of that money is going towards the costumes.  Scalamoni says the play has about 10-12 costume changes and everybody has to match in order to tell the story of how the artists grow from their humble beginnings to being superstars.  The clothing helps tell that story and also speaks to the time periods involved as well.

While the costs for a production like this are high, Scalamoni believes it is important for a theatre company to show that they can tell a story in any form.  “Theatre companies all across the country right now are figuring out ways to do big musicals in scaled down, interesting ways,” he explained.  “I think if you have a good story and you have a good score you can do a big musical.  It’s all about the story and how well you can tell that story.”



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Apparently actors were very interested in telling the story as well.  Skyline received more than 600 submissions for the show.  This made casting very easy for the company.  They had choices for every character and were fortunately enough to have all of their first choices accept the roles — including the iconic role of Effie, which earned Jennifer Holliday a Tony Award in the original Broadway production.  In Skyline’s production, Effie will be played by Keisha Gilles who was the understudy in the last national tour of Dreamgirls.

“To cast a role like Effie for me was a challenge because I had a certain idea in mind of what I wanted,” said Scalamoni.  “I think people came in with a pre-conceived notion of Jennifer Holliday from the original production and I wasn’t necessarily looking for that.  I was looking for a couple of other things and I found them in Keisha and we’re excited that we got her.”

As a director, Scalamoni says the play excites him because of the way it constantly moves.  He credits Michael Bennett, the choreographer of the original production, for crafting the way the show is structured.  In addition to Gilles, the play stars Taylor Almonte (Deena), Jennifer Theriot (Lorrell), Randall Holloway (Curtis), Marq Johnson (Jimmy), Michael Fisher (CC), Jerome Foster (Marty), and Ayana Bey (Michelle).

“This play is not done that often and when things aren’t done often I want to read them and see why they’re not done,” he continued.  “I think this one isn’t done that often because it might be challenging to stage.  It moves constantly and the size of it might scare some people, but we have a good handle on how to tell this story without it being all about crazy sets and big production values.  It’s going to be much more about costumes and the lights and how we tell the story and more about the people.”

Above all, Scalamoni wants people to know that Skyline’s main goal is to inspire people and to entertain.  He wants people to leave the theatre feeling as if they’ve seen a good professional cast and had a top notch theatrical experience.  See for yourself when he brings Dreamgirls on stage.  The show runs for two weekends only so get your tickets now.  Performances are on April 24-26, and May 1-3 at the Fair Lawn Community Center.  For more information visit the Skyline website.





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Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.


Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!










Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


MUSIC

THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


DANCE

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


KIDS

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


LECTURE

Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

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