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Curtis replaces Effie with a new singer, Jackie Morris, a young girlfriend change about which Effie learns before anyone has a chance to tell her. C., and the group ("It's All Over"), but despite her personal appeal to Curtis ("And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"), the heartbroken Effie is left behind as Deena Jones and the Dreams forge ahead without her ("Love Love Me Baby"). Marty, who is now her manager, compels her to rebuild her confidence and give up her "diva behaviors." Once she does, Effie is able to make a show business comeback ("I Am Changing").
Curtis and Deena are convinced that she is trying to sabotage the act. Effie is back in Chicago, a single mother to her daughter, Magic (or Ronald in other versions), struggling to get another break.
Act I: 1960s In 1962, The Dreamettes, a hopeful black girl group from Chicago, enter the famous Amateur Night talent competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York ("I'm Lookin' for Something", "Goin' Downtown", "Takin' the Long Way Home").