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Sonia Friedman talks of 30-year battle to stage Dreamgirls

Sonia Friedman. Photo: Jason Alden Sonia Friedman. Photo: Jason Alden
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Sonia Friedman has revealed her 30-year struggle to get Dreamgirls to the London stage, admitting she “tried so many times and failed”.

The producer also described the production as the “greatest possible” musical she could imagine putting on.

Friedman was speaking as a work-in-progress was presented to an invited audience in London.

She said she had become aware of the show in the 1980s, when she was a stage manager at the National Theatre and involved in fundraising for Aids charities.

Friedman said she had initially asked if she could stage a concert production as a fundraiser in London, but was rejected.

“I kept persisting and we ended up doing one night in Leicester at the Haymarket. We did a concert version and that was when a small, privileged group of people heard and saw the musical. So it has been in Britain for one night before,” she said.

Friedman revealed that, following this and when she had begun working as a producer, she had tried to secure the rights to the show for a London run.

She said more experienced producers had also tried, claiming the calls had been rejected because the show never found “its natural home”.

She also revealed that the show’s composer, Henry Krieger, felt there was nobody who could “sing it”.

“And so for years and years, many great producers have tried and been thwarted. I just kept persisting, and anyone who knows me knows I don’t give up. I just kept trying to get the rights. I tried so many times and failed,” she said.

The producer of the show, which opens at the Savoy Theatre next month, said audiences were in for the “most extraordinary treat”.

“It’s the greatest possible thing I could imagine doing in musical theatre. We have done a lot of shows… but this is like nothing else I know,” she added.

Friedman said she hoped that Dreamgirls would bring a new audience to the West End.

The show has recently partnered with ticketing app TodayTix to launch a £15 front-row lottery scheme, with tickets on offer daily.

Friedman said she was particularly keen to appeal to those who have heard songs from the production on series such as The X Factor.

“I am hoping people who tune in to those shows will come and see the show and understand it’s not just about getting up and singing one song, it’s about being part of a company, a narrative, storytelling and that the music, such as And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, which is now an iconic number for these TV shows, actually comes from something,” she said.

Dreamgirls, directed by Casey Nicholaw, begins performances on November 19, with a press night on December 14.

It is currently booking until May 6, 2017.

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