‘Dreamgirls’ touring company hits Rialto
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media March 7, 2013 10:04AM
"Dreamgirls" will be at the Rialto Square Theatre on March 14. | Courtesy of the Rialto
♦ 8 p.m. March 14
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $40-$50
♦ (815) 726-6600
Updated: March 17, 2013 9:56PM
Many entertainers have rituals that they perform before they step on stage. For actor A.J. Davis, who appears in the touring production of “Dreamgirls,” which will be presented on March 14 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, his ritual changes when he is aware that people he knows are in the audience.
“I now live in New York, but I am from Merrillville, Ind.,” Davis said. “I think about 30 people who I know will be in Joliet when we do the show there. It will be good to see my family and friends. I have done some other professional shows since I moved to New York, and my family has not seen those, so this will be a treat for them to see me in a touring show.
“I am more nervous performing in front of people I am close to than if there are 1,000 people I don’t know,” he continued. “So I will go off by myself and I get my mind together before I go on to combat the nervousness.”
The musical “Dreamgirls” tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960s girl singing trio and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. With music by Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, “Dreamgirls” features the songs “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “One Night Only” and “Listen,” among others.
The show was first produced on Broadway in 1981. The production opened on Dec. 20, 1981, and closed on Aug. 11, 1985, after 1,521 total performances. The original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls” won six Tony Awards and the show was adapted into a motion picture in 2006.
Davis plays multiple roles in the touring production.
“I play Earl, the master of ceremonies at the Apollo Theater,” he said. “And I am also in the ensemble. I am a dancer. And then I play another character, Jerry, a club owner, later in the show.”
Having to don different costumes and create different characters in the same show does not faze Davis.
“I have practiced for a while,” he said, “so I know what I have to do for each character.”
Davis also draws from his own personality for the roles.
“The character of Earl, the master of ceremonies at the Apollo, is very energetic,” Davis said. “I am like him in that regard. I guess there is a part of me in both of the characters I portray.”
Davis believes that the songs and the story are the main appeal of “Dreamgirls.”
“I think people enjoy the music and the rags-to-riches story,” he said. “You have these three women in the 1960s and it shows all that they had to go through to become successful. That appeals to people. People can identify with that.”