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First a Broadway smash and then an all-star movie "Dreamgirls" makes for a dream SoundTRAX

The three actresses in "Dreamgirls" are pictured in silhouette on the soundtrack cover.
Sony BMG Music
/
DreamWorks Pictures & Paramount Pictures

From the stage to the big screen "Dreamgirls" came alive with Beyoncé and a powerhouse performance from Jennifer Hudson.

In 1981 the musical Dreamgirls took Broadway by storm and almost immediately there was talk of bringing it to the big screen. Yet it never came to fruition until 2006.

But it's almost like they were waiting for the perfect ensemble to come along— and they certainly did.

Clearly drawing inspiration from elements of The Supremes' career, the film stars Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, and a little-known singer from a band called Destiny's Child. Just kidding— everyone knew Beyoncé Knowles by then and was excited to see her play the part of Deena, who was loosely based on Diana Ross.

Jamie Foxx is the Berry Gordy-ish character and Eddie Murphy dazzled critics so much as soul singer Jimmy "Thunder" Early he was considered a shoo-in for an Academy Award. Then his next project, a little disaster called "Norbit" hit theaters immediately after and yep, Alan Arkin ended up with the Oscar instead.

The cast is rounded out by Danny Glover, Keith Robinson, John Lithgow, John Krasinski, and it's particularly nice to see Loretta Devine, who was in the original Broadway production in a small part.

But we all know Jennifer Hudson walked away with the movie with her star-making turn as Effie and she had to beat out nearly 800 other singing actresses for the role, including Fantasia Barrino, Raven-Symoné, and Yvette Nicole Brown. J-Hud was the right choice and walked away with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Two versions of the soundtrack were released: a single-disc standard release, and a two-disc deluxe edition. Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas of the production team The Underdogs acted as producers and arrangers for the film's soundtrack and yes, all the cast members do their own singing.

And there can be only one choice for today's SoundTRAX selection. It brought the house down in 1981 when the original Effie, Jennifer Holliday, debuted it on Broadway and it was the number everyone remembers from the movie.

From Dreamgirls, it's Jennifer Hudson with "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10 a.m.

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.