Sheryl Lee Ralph Gives Jennifer Hudson a Masterclass Lesson in ‘Dreamgirls’ Choreography

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Millard_20220916_1007_1750 - Credit: Erica Parise
Millard_20220916_1007_1750 - Credit: Erica Parise

Sheryl Lee Ralph, fresh off her big Emmy win for Abbot Elementary, joined Jennifer Hudson on the Jennifer Hudson Show for a bit of nostalgia as she reflected on her turn in the original 1981 Broadway production of Dreamgirls.

Hudson, of course, is more than familiar with the show, having starred in the 2006 film adaptation and winning a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her work. Still, Hudson was reverent as she stood alongside Ralph, both draped in feather boas, and dutifully followed the latter’s lead as Ralph reiterated the proper way to step, sway, and sing along to Dreamgirls’ eponymous number.

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Prior to the mini-performance, Ralph vividly recalled the day she auditioned for Dreamgirls. She said she remembered walking into the theater behind Loretta Devine — who was “already becoming Loretta Devine,” Ralph quipped — and winding up in a room filled with powerhouse vocalists. “The building was literally levitating off of the concrete, that’s how wonderful they were,” Ralph recalled. “And then there was me.”

When it was finally time for her to audition, Ralph said she was instructed to sing something from church. “So, I sang ‘Ave Maria’ — they were very quiet,” she cracked. “I think they were thinking something more in the Baptist vein, and they did not know that I was a little Episcopalian girl.”

After her audition, Ralph said she waited around for several hours until, finally, the show’s creative team came by to announce their decision. After the first two names were called, Ralph says she was literally getting ready to leave when she heard her name next.

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