The classic Broadway hit “Dreamgirls” will headline at the Fest Center in Atlanta. The musical follows the story of three Black women who experience stardom in the 1960s and ’70s.
Award-winning director Robert John Connor, and actress Y’Anna Crawley, recently spoke with ADW to shed light on the show as it makes its way to Atlanta.
What inspired you to bring Dreamgirls to Atlanta?
Connor: I actually had been trying to bring it in 2019. And we were in a planning stage and then of course COVID hit. I’ve always loved this musical and I’m someone who is passionate about finding platforms for the talent that we have here. I believed “Dreamgirls” would be a great project for my company and also for the artists that reside here. And so after a successful run of “Black Nativity” this past winter, we shifted into Dreamgirls and immediately went into casting. All of the right people showed up at the audition, which included the incredibly talented and beautiful Y’Anna Crawley.
Y’Anna Crawley, you’re casted as Effie. What does it mean to take on a role of this magnitude?
Crawley: Man this is such a big role for me. I’m just very I’m honored and I’m grateful to have been chosen. As far as my acting background, I’ve always done theater. But I’ve also done TV and the big screen with ‘Coming to America” and “Greenleaf.” But it’s nothing like theater. We don’t get any cuts, breaks or do overs. So it’s just amazing. It’s very tedious. It’s very precise, and you got to be on it. I started looking at how Effie’s life was parallel to mine being a girl of thickness and of color. At that time, they had a lot of opposition. So with the experiences that I’ve had in the industry, it parallels with my life. I can relate to a lot of things that Effie had gone through.
Robert, what did you see that made you want to cast her for this role?
This woman is the real deal. I’ve always been a fan of great singers. Many of my friends and collaborators in theater and music are musicians. I surround myself around people who I admire. So I saw her years ago and I was just blown away by the quality of her voice. She’s a woman who commanded the room. I found out that she lives in Atlanta and when the “Dreamgirls” project came up, we made phone calls. She went through the process, which is very admirable, as a person who you know, has a national name. She was my number one choice from day one.
“Dreamgirls” will open at the Ferst Center in Atlanta on June 15.