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‘Beautiful show’

The cast of “Dreamgirls” will open its run on Friday, Feb. 7, at the African American Performing Arts Center. (Courtesy of Musical Theatre Southwest)

Ashley Murphy was made for theater.

Although acting did pique her interest, it’s the behind-the-scenes process that keeps her challenging herself.

Murphy is directing “Dreamgirls,” which is being staged by Musical Theatre Southwest.

The musical, part of the Black History Month celebration in Albuquerque, opens on Friday, Feb. 7, and runs through Feb. 23 at the African American Performing Arts Center at Expo New Mexico.

“It’s been a very humbling experience,” Murphy says. “I’m honored to direct such a show.”

“Dreamgirls” tells the story of three black singers – Deena, Lorrell and Effie.

The trio began as the Dreamettes.

They start as three talented, close friends and gradually sharpen their act and rename themselves the Dreams.

Little do they know of the hard, competitive world of show business.

As they get famous, the relationship among the women is ripped apart.

“This show has a lot of the pieces that represent the struggles that I have as an African American woman,” Murphy says. “It’s about letting your gifts shine.”

Casting for the production took place two months ago, and the cast hit the ground running.

Murphy’s journey with the cast has been positive and inspiring.

“To see actresses or actors that haven’t ventured into dance, acting or musicals, now blossoming. It’s amazing,” she says. “It’s an honor to see them bloom with the process. We started with a blank canvas and see it grow into a beautiful show.”

Of course, Murphy put some pressure on herself by taking on the Broadway classic.

With a cast of 23, Murphy helped the performers grow into their respective roles.

“We’re taking all of these gifts and making it an awesome project,” she says. “It was my vision to take the essence of what the writer intended and help guide each performer into making it their own.”

As opening night approaches, Murphy is feeling bittersweet.

“It’s over before it’s started. I’m excited for the state of New Mexico to see the hard work pay off,” she says. “I’m overjoyed at the fact that the show came to Albuquerque and we are working to do it justice. We’re creating a show that has a long history, and all the pieces are lining up.”

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