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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 12/12/2010

One night only!: VIP visitor Jennifer Holliday steals the show, inspires the stars, at Duke Ellington School's "Dreamgirls"

By The Reliable Source

Jennifer Holliday joins Ellington students Victoria Ellington, Jumohny Walker and India Reynolds on stage Thursday night. (Brian Nielson for Duke Ellington School of the Arts)

Jennifer Holliday was expected to be just a VIP guest at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts' Thursday benefit performance of "Dreamgirls," the musical that made her a star 30 years ago. But once you're Effie, you're always Effie: To the surprise of the student cast, the 50-year-old Tony winner stepped back into her old role, joining them onstage for several songs, reports our colleague Hamil Harris. She even came prepared for a mid-show costume change!

Holliday didn't just show 'em how it's done. The R&B belter, whose star waned after her breakthrough hit, also told the aspiring young stars How It Works. "There are a lot of years between prodigy and legend," she told the cast in a post-show gathering. "A girl is only new until she is 29. When you are 30, you ain't new no more."

Er, any words of encouragement? Holliday -- svelter than at her height of fame (no dairy, no chocolate) and focused now on gospel -- told the kids to "stay ready. There were many years when I was down and out and nobody remembered me. But when they found me, I said, 'Give me the microphone.' "


Continue on to see video from Holliday's visit.


(Hamil Harris/The Washington Post)

By The Reliable Source  | December 12, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
 
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