It’s a dream of the past and present.
A show inspired by the musical “Dreamgirls” will tackle modern issues, including racism and school shootings, when it plays the Kings Theatre on June 24. “Dream Abundantly” uses tunes and themes from the Broadway musical (and later film) to shine a light on issues facing kids today, said its creator.
“This show pays some tribute to social and economic experiences going on today, the tensions and how it relates to history,” said Karisma Jay. “I did my research to explore those themes and what it really takes to manifest the dream by pushing back.”
This production, from the AbunDance Academy of the Arts, features a cast of more than 100 performers. The show skips the girl-group drama of the original musical, moving the story to the American South during the civil rights movement and featuring four leading ladies in a social justice singing group, following them from childhood to stardom.
“In our story we start in Birmingham, Alabama after the bombing of the four little girls in the church that Sunday, but we have a grandmother figure in our story who educates her four little girls on what happened to them and inspires a girl group called Dream,” said Jay.
She was inspired by headlines about mass shootings and killings by police officers, she said.
“The whole idea stems from children getting their dreams cut short, whether by police brutality or school shootings, and we really explore those emotions when a dream is cut short,” she said.
The show includes songs from the original musical, including “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” and “Steppin’ To the Bad Side,” using nostalgic elements of ’60s girl groups and live music to introduce sensitive topics.
“It’s a gentle way into the subject and it’s a nice interrupter of the norm,” she said. “I created it in a way that it hugs you, supports you, and it’s definitely balanced, even though it might be a hard pill to swallow.”
Jay hopes that viewers will leave the show mobilized and inspired to make changes in the world.
“I want people go out and seek change and be the rebel for the change they want to see, and advocate for the voiceless,” she said. “I know sometimes we don’t want our children exposed to certain ideas, but these things happen and are happening and I don’t want to be ambushed with it — I want to be prepared.”
“Dream Abundantly” at Kings Theatre [1027 Flatbush Ave. between Tilden Road and Duryea Place in Flatbush, (718) 282–804 www.kings