Fresh from her first Primetime Emmy Award win, Abbott Elementary actress Sheryl Lee Ralph appeared on The Jennifer Hudson show only to have a full-circle moment, reliving her Dreamgirls moment.
Ralph portrayed Deena Jones 41 years ago on Broadway in the 1980s. Years later, Jennifer Hudson joined the cast of the Dreamgirls film as Effie White.
During the show, Hudson asked Ralph if she remembered her audition for the Broadway musical, and the actress gave a detailed audition recount as if it had happened not too long ago.
“I remember that day…it was 890 Broadway, Michael Bennett’s big theater,” she began. “I walked in there, and I was walking behind Loretta Devine [her Dreamgirls castmate] because Loretta Devine was already, you know, becoming Loretta Divine. And these women in the room, they were not singers. They were SANGERS, baby.”
Ralph said they asked her to sing a church song when it was her turn to audition. She chose “Ave Maria.”
“They were very quiet,” she said. “I think they were thinking something more in the Baptist vein, and they did not know that I was a little Episcopalian girl.”
Following the audition process, the Abbott Elementary actress said the audition overseers dramatically informed the Dreamgirls prospects that if their names were called, it was their “day,” but if their names weren’t called wasn’t their day.
“And then they said ‘Loretta Devine,'” Ralph recalled. “‘Ramona Brooks’…and I’m getting ready to leave, ‘and Sheryl Lee Ralph.'”
Discussing their choreography, Ralph and Hudson decided to do a little Dreamgirls revival by performing the well-known “Dreamgirls” song with fluffy fuchsia feather boas.
“Girl, now this is not any cheap boa, so you know I’m keeping it,” Ralph said.
“Yes, ma’am, you better,” Hudson replied. “I’m following your lead; you’re the original Dreamgirl, baby, not me.”
Hudson sang to the Dreamgirls theme song while Ralph walked her through the choreography.
Ralph earned verbal approval when she cut in to sing with Hudson.
“I can’t believe I just got to have that moment with you,” Hudson said to Ralph. “That was the dream. She’s a dream.”