After a triumphant show, the press is eager to meet the newly minted stars ("Press Conference").
Curtis declares to Deena, "I'm going to make you the most famous woman who's ever lived," as the slighted Effie asks "What about me? Over the next few years, the Dreams become a mainstream success with hit singles ("Heavy").
As Deena is increasingly feted as a star, Effie becomes temperamental and unpredictable. Lorrell attempts to keep peace between her bandmates, but the task seems difficult.
In 1967, the group – now known as "Deena Jones and the Dreams" – is set to make their Las Vegas début.
Though Jimmy Early and the Dreamettes' first performance together is successful ("Fake Your Way to the Top"), Jimmy is desperate for new material. composes "Cadillac Car" for Jimmy and the Dreamettes, who tour ("Cadillac Car (On the Road)") and record the single upon their return ("Cadillac Car (In the Recording Studio)").
Curtis convinces Jimmy and Marty that they should venture beyond traditional rhythm and blues and soul audiences and aim for the pop market. "Cadillac Car" makes its way up the pop charts, but a cover version by white pop singers Dave and the Sweethearts ("Cadillac Car" (Reprise)) steals the original recording's thunder. C., and Jimmy's producer, Wayne, resort to payola, bribing disc jockeys across the nation to play Jimmy Early and the Dreamettes' next single, "Steppin' to the Bad Side". Conflict arises between Marty and Curtis when Curtis moves in on Marty's turf: Jimmy Early.
Midway through "I Meant You No Harm", Jimmy falls apart and decides that he "can't sing any more sad songs." Desperate to keep his set going, Jimmy launches into a wild, improvised funk number ("The Rap"), dropping his pants during the performance. to meet and reconcile with Effie at a recording studio ("I Miss You, Old Friend"). C.'s "One Night Only" in its original ballad format.
An embarrassed Curtis fires Jimmy as soon as his set concludes. The heartbroken Jimmy fades into obscurity, refusing to "beg" for Curtis' help. "One Night Only" begins climbing the charts, causing an enraged Curtis not only to rush-release Deena and the Dreams' version, but to use massive amounts of payola to push Deena's version up the charts and Effie's version down ("One Night Only (Disco)"). C., and Marty discover Curtis's scheme and confront him backstage at a Dreams concert, threatening legal action ("I'm Somebody", "Chicago/Faith in Myself").
Dreamgirls had its beginnings as a project for Nell Carter.
Playwright Tom Eyen and composer Henry Krieger first worked together on the 1975 musical version of Eyen's play The Dirtiest Show in Town.
Lorrell is in tears as Jimmy takes to the stage to perform, and turns to Deena for support.
As Jimmy pleads to Lorrell through his music ("I Meant You No Harm"), Deena tries to help Lorrell successfully resolve her situation, and Michelle convinces the artistically frustrated C. to go find his sister and reconcile with her ("Quintette"). apologizes for his role in handicapping her career, and Effie records C.
Dreamgirls is a Broadway musical, with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen.