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A White Effie? 
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Post A White Effie?
I have recently got interested in Dreamgirls and would die to be in it. I could sing pretty much any role but since the show seems to hinge on a black Deena, could a white girl like me play Effie? I even have an audition song picked out should I get the chance. If they want a musical theater song, I'd sing the We Will Rock You version of Another One Bites The Dust since Killer Queen, like Effie, is a major "diva" role. I need your opinion on the song's suitability for Effie as well as whether a white girl could play Effie.


Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:22 pm
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Post Re: A White Effie?
Eh, I'm not a huge dreamgirls fan, but I saw this, and well, ah, no, it's kinda hard to play Effie and be white. Race is a theme is the show and the Dreams are all supposed to be black. But I feel your pain, I'm a huge Miss Saigon and West Side Story fan, and I'm never gonna get to play Kim or Maria, which makes me a little sad, but hey, that's life!

And I know nothing about We Will Rock You, so sorry, can't help you with that!


Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:57 pm
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Post Re: A White Effie?
For what it's worth, a white friend of mine played Maria. Not saying it's right, but it happens.

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Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:54 pm
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Post Re: A White Effie?
I think I missed the memo where people from Puerto Rico weren't white. According to the 'demographics of Puerto Rico' wikipedia page, 75.8 % of the populace is Caucasian, and 24.2% is not.

As it stands, I'm pretty sure Maria can be played by actresses of any colour or culture without offense; I've seen the show three times, and Maria was played by a Filipina, a German, and an Argentinean. The movie has Russian-born Natalie Wood playing the role. I've never seen an actress from Puerto Rico tackle the role, which is an oddity indeed.

We Will Rock You is a pretty bad fit for a Dreamgirls audition, I'd say. The music is nothing alike and Killer Queen and Effie are two very different characters. Social class alone separates them greatly. Someone auditioning for Dreamgirls would probably use a song from the same genre(s) of music of the score. Look into real divas from the time, like Aretha Franklin or Dusty Springfield. If not, I suppose the black characters' song from Hairspray would be all right.

This is a musical where race is incredibly important and figures into the motivations of all the characters. One of the main problems the Dreams are facing as an all-black group is lack of radio-time and the encroachment of white groups on their material. The show doesn't just hinge on a black Deena; it requires the whole group to be black.

Plus, given the setting of the play, I'm not sure if a racially integrated group would have been historically viable, at least for most of the first act. So I'd say no to a white Effie. It's like doing

That said, as a white girl you have plenty of opportunities outside of Dreamgirls, the entire canon of Stephen Sondheim (barring Pacific Overtures), for instance. Actresses of colour are not on the same boat, even with the possibility of colourblind casting. Dreamgirls is a huge opportunity for actresses of colour.

-2 cents-


Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:23 am
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Post Re: A White Effie?
Canadian Drama Geek wrote:
I think I missed the memo where people from Puerto Rico weren't white. According to the 'demographics of Puerto Rico' wikipedia page, 75.8 % of the populace is Caucasian, and 24.2% is not.


I know that most of Puerto Rico is white. I've just been told most of the time they want someone who is darker. But I could be wrong about the typical casting choices. But if doesn't bother me too much anyway, because like the OP, I am white, and I have a gazillion more opportunities out there for me.


Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:10 am
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Post Re: A White Effie?
Sorry about the misguided pick, I had just seen an announcement about dates for We Will Rock You and was so much in We Will Rock You mode that I forgot that A. different characters, B. We Will Rock You is a rock musical and Dreamgirls is a pop musical and C. Effie's big number, And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going, is a ballad so an uptempo song like Another One Bites The Dust would be wrong. But "I Know Where I've Been" is perfect for Effie. I'll have to pass that on to my Broadway-loving friends of color in case our school does Dreamgirls.


Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:18 am
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Post Re: A White Effie?
If I could, I would promote the hell out of your last comment, MoonOwl. Succinctly stated.

No problemo, Bohemian4ever. :D


Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:10 pm
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Post Re: A White Effie?
xXMoonOwlXx wrote:
Eh, I'm not a huge dreamgirls fan, but I saw this, and well, ah, no, it's kinda hard to play Effie and be white. Race is a theme is the show and the Dreams are all supposed to be black. But I feel your pain, I'm a huge Miss Saigon and West Side Story fan, and I'm never gonna get to play Kim or Maria, which makes me a little sad, but hey, that's life!

And I know nothing about We Will Rock You, so sorry, can't help you with that!
I agree with you and everybodyelse. Please, let the character be play by a black actress. That is the way it was and should always be. To the white girl wanting to play Effie, pick other roles. It would look racist and it doesn't look right. The character is part of a black female singing group and it is part of history. You would distort it. What's wrong with Hair, Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar? Those are great shows with wider opportunities. Move on.


Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:32 pm
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