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by Jenina Singh, staff writer

Although this common rise and fall to fame story lacks distinctiveness in plot, it makes up for it in its music.

Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles), Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose), are three black female soul singers, known as The Dreamettes, who get their big break filling in as backup singers for James Thunder Early (Eddie Murphy) during the early 1960s.

Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), a car salesman who’s trying to get into the music industry, witnesses Early’s backup singers quiting, later, he hears the girls doubt about continuing their career because of their loss in a local competition. Taylor, seeing the potential in both situations, approaches The Dreamettes, saying “this could be your big break.” Then he pitches them to Early, saving the day for everyone. Early has his backup singers, The Dreamettes have their big break, and Taylor becomes their manager.

It’s not long before Taylor swindles his way into managing both The Dreamettes and Early. With his own ambitions for huge success, Taylor realizes the girl’s soul music won’t help them cross over into the pop charts because of the sensitive cultural climate of the 1960s. (This was a time when some radio stations refused to play music from black vocalists or allow them to play at showcases with predominantly white audiences.) Taylor breaks this barrier by replacing the lead singer, Effie, whose voice has soulful depth, with Deena’s softer and more pop-chart accommodating voice. The Dreamettes become The Dreams.

Hurt feelings, love triangles, and high egos tear the group apart. Taylor plays up the eye appeal of Deena, seeing her more as a product than an artist, which causes even more resentment among the group.

The characters’ quest to find their dreams leads to their self-deception and downfall. This is a musical rendition of the rise and fall that comes with the desire of fame and fortune. In Deena’s final song, a defiant reclaiming of her voice and identity, we see the self-empowerment that comes with starting over.




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