Back in a fabulous Dreamgirls dress
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 12-13
Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Tickets: $38-$58; 520-7469, pikespeakcenter.com
Jasmin Richardson has some mighty big lungs to fill.
She stars as Deena Jones, an R&B girl group singer in the touring musical “Dreamgirls.” The show debuted on Broadway in 1981 and won six Tony awards. It comes to the Pikes Peak Center on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Deena, Effie and Lorrell are The Dreamettes, a trio of young Chicago singers in the 1960s who dream of making it big. They try their luck at an amateur competition night, and although they lose the contest, they attract the attention of Curtis, who becomes their manager. They go on to become music superstars and change their name to The Dreams. Success comes with a hefty price tag, though: broken friendships.
“Dreamgirls” is widely thought to be based on the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes, even though the writers and producers have denied any connection between the two. The Jones role is thought to be Ross, who was picked to sing lead in The Supremes, and the Effie character is thought to be Supreme Florence Ballard, who was pushed to the back and eventually fired from the group. She, like Effie in the musical, sought a solo career after the Supremes but failed to establish herself as a bankable singer. Though Effie has a happier ending in the musical, Ballard struggled with poverty and addiction and died from cardiac arrest at 32.
The Gazette: What’s it like to play Deena?
Jasmin Richardson: It’s an honor; it’s a dream role. I feel like the Deena character is glamorized but also underappreciated because of the choices she made to leave her closest friends. It’s such a meaty role for an actress. Sometimes people hate her, but she’s human. She made a mistake. People feel so strongly about the choices she made that sometimes I get caught up in, “Oh, they really hate me!’’
Gazette: How much of the story do you think is Diana Ross and the Supremes?
Richardson: I don’t know how true it is for Ross’ history. I love her. She’s fantastic. She’s the epitome of a diva in the most positive light. Who doesn’t look up to Diana Ross? You have to.
Gazette: How did you prepare for the role?
Richardson: I watched a lot of Diana Ross videos. I wanted to glean how she physically carried herself. The girls grow from teenyboppers into these fabulous stars. Even my voice, it changes throughout the show. I watched the singing styles and how she moved. I was also lucky enough to meet Sheryl Lee Ralph (who originated the role on Broadway). My assistant stage manager is her nephew, and he asked her if I could go talk to her about a week or two ago. She helped me tweak a few things (about my character). Mostly she gave me tips on the business and how I can create longevity. She said always be ready, you never know who you’re going to meet.
Gazette: This isn’t the first role you’ve played in “Dreamgirls?”
Richardson: No, I played Michelle in a regional production in South Carolina.
Gazette: Favorite song to perform?
Gazette: Favorite dance number?
Richardson: In the beginning, when the three girls come to perform for amateur night. They’re so innocent at that point.
Gazette: Favorite costume?
Richardson: I change 23 times in the show. I have little elves in the back helping me. The very last costume is my favorite: It’s an all-white beaded gown when we do the final farewell.
Gazette: What’s the message you take from the show?
Richardson: As humans we all make mistakes and we can always come back and fix them. Sometimes it means putting your ego to the side and coming back and saying sorry and I love you.
Jennifer Mulson may be reached at 636-0270.