JHol belts it out as only she can. Photo credit: golf082
When I heard Ms. Jennifer Holliday — the original Dreamgirl — was performing at this year’s Northalsted Market Days months ago (thanks, Jamie!), I immediately put a reminder in my calendar. Simply to hear her sing that song live was a bucket list item I needed to cross off. I mean, the song was essentially written with her lion’s roar of a voice in mind. Any other actress, including Ms. Hudson, are merely following a template created for Holliday.
After waiting at the main stage for 15 minutes past start time, the show finally got going. And, I’m happy to report, the girl still got it. She hits the notes and growls out those phrases as only she can. Her vibrato is manufactured by the flapping of her jaw, which is both marvelous and insane all at once. She proves why there is, and always will be, only one Jennifer Holliday. All the rest are mere imitation.
But she’s also one of the most uncomfortable creatures I’ve ever seen onstage. As an example of her awkward physicality, she wore this beaded coat that she nervously held clasped with her hand — a literal and metaphorical means of protecting herself from exposure. She seems very frail, too, moving slowly and cautiously about the stage. There’s little connection between the words she’s singing and her body language. Only during her two big Dreamgirls numbers (“I Am Changing” and “And I’m Telling You”) did she get some life in her.
However, she seemed genuinely touched by her fan base and the support we were giving her. I just get the sense she’s out of practice performing for such rowdy, large groups. We freaked her out a bit.