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‘Dreamgirls’ hits the road next year

Touring production kicks off Nov. 2009

The North American touring production of “Dreamgirls” will kick off at the Apollo Theater in November 2009.

The Harlem venue, an unusual berth for a large-scale legit musical, will host the show for about four weeks as the first stop of a tour that producer John Breglio expects to last 60 weeks.

Road show is helmed by Robert Longbottom (“Flower Drum Song”), soon to go into rehearsal for a staging of “Dreamgirls” that will play a 21-week engagement in Seoul, South Korea opening in February. Stateside version will be largely the same production, although the Seoul incarnation will star Korean thesps.

Apollo stint does not preclude a potential Broadway run, which remains up in the air and would not likely materialize before 2011. “Way down the road, whether we come back to New York, we’ll see,” Breglio said.

The engagement at the Harlem venue nods to the storyline of the musical, which follows the rise and fall of an African-American girl group. First line of show includes the phrase “Live at the Apollo…”

Tony-winning 1981 tuner, with music by Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, received a major boost in profile from the 2006 pic version, which won two Oscars including one for thesp Jennifer Hudson.

“The material took on a different hue after the movie,” Breglio said. “It suddenly became a worldwide property.”

Producer is mulling plans for a possible West End run and an Asian tour.

New production will incorporate “Listen,” a song penned by Krieger for the pic and sung by Beyonce onscreen.

North American tour will be capitalized at between $4 million and $5 million, according to Breglio (“A Chorus Line”). Longbottom directs a new staging choreographed by Shane Sparks and including design elements from Robin Wagner (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes) and Ken Billington (lights).

Casting has recently begun. An open audition for actresses to play the tuner’s three lead female roles is set for Saturday at the Apollo.

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