Magazine article Newsweek

It's Diva-Licious; 'Dreamgirls' Is a Stage Classic. the Film's Even Better

Magazine article Newsweek

It's Diva-Licious; 'Dreamgirls' Is a Stage Classic. the Film's Even Better

Article excerpt

Byline: David Ansen

To understand the definition of a showstopper, look no further than "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)," which became an instant Broadway legend in 1981 when Jennifer Holliday belted out the song in Michael Bennett's production of "Dreamgirls." Now, in Bill Condon's knockout movie version of the musical, the number belongs to Jennifer Hudson, and her star-making rendition is going to raise goose bumps across the land.

The song--a raw, roiling aria of defiance and pain--is sung by Effie (Hudson), the hefty, difficult, soulful lead of the Dreamettes, an aspiring Detroit girl group in the early '60s (think the Supremes) who are about to cross over from the chitlins circuit to mainstream success. But to achieve this goal, Effie must be dumped as lead singer in place of Deena (Beyonce Knowles), who has half the voice but is svelte, light-skinned and malleable. To make things worse, Deena has also replaced Effie in the bed of the group's smart, ruthlessly ambitious manager Curtis (Jamie Foxx). "And I Am Telling You" is Effie's response to being cast aside. With her powerhouse voice, Hudson turns this Henry Krieger/Tom Eyen song into a heartbreaking yelp of anguish so potent one preview audience gave it a standing ovation. That's not supposed to happen in movie theaters.

"Dreamgirls" would be worth the price of admission for this one number, but it has plenty of other pleasures. There's Eddie Murphy's blistering turn as James "Thunder" Early, the swaggering, James Brown-like R&B star who resists "whitening up" for the mass market. …

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