The musical has long been a part of popular entertainment, no matter if it’s on Broadway, on the silver screen, or on TV. Several web series have also added to that tradition, as evidenced by shows like DESTROY THE ALPHA GAMMAS, THE TROUBADOORS (both previously covered here) and Joss Whedon’s DR. HORRIBLE’S SING ALONG BLOG.

While those popular series have combined hilarious comedy mixed with memorable original music and spectacular choreography, the new drama DREAM: THE URBAN MUSICAL does more than just bring viewers great music and dancing.

Through its compelling characters and their incredible stories, DREAM: THE URBAN MUSICAL is sure to appeal to viewers of all ethnicities and socio-economic statuses.

unnamed-5Created by Theshay West, and co-written by West and Selana Allen, DREAM: THE MUSICAL is set to premiere its first of 7 episodes later this March on its official Youtube page. The show’s trailer can be viewed at the end of this article.

The series’ talented ensemble cast features Siergio as Chase, an aspiring singer/actor who’s determined to achieve showbiz stardom. Supporting Chase throughout his journey is his older brother Mario (Patrick Lamont), who watched over him during their turbulent childhood years.

Meanwhile, Charice (Nzinga Imani) seeks to make a name for herself in the glamorous world of fashion design, but her professional struggles are further compounded by a completely new problem she now faces: being in a romantic relationship. There’s also Ava (Ayanna), a talented and beautiful singer in search of a personal and professional comeback.

Helping her to get back on top of the music industry is Dream Records executive producer Brian (played by Omar Rasheed). However, his relationship in Ava suddenly becomes much more than merely a working one, as Brian becomes gradually infatuated with her – much to the consternation of Brian’s longtime assistant Tammy (Mary Cecil).

unnamed-3Though Brian refuses to acknowledge it, Tammy’s had her eyes on him for a long time. Now, she wants not just a new title at Dream Records, but also to have Brian for herself.

As for Chase, his path to fame and fortune is soon thwarted when Julia (Olivia Crosby) arrives on the scene. Desperate to start a family with Chase, the former dancer will go out of her way to get what she wants – no matter how questionable her methods might be.

West initially began developing the concept for DREAM during his years as a high school student. During that time, West’s talents as a filmmaker would also take shape. “Around 2 years ago. I attended Dekalb School of the Arts high school here in Georgia. It was a supportive environment which fostered my development as a young filmmaker. I loved high school, and high school loved me,” he says.

However, the uncertainty of life after high school, and the real life struggles West and his friends faced as a result, proved to be the biggest inspiration for him to create the series. “…After graduation and attending college I soon discovered how hard it was to continue to pursue my art. All of my friends were going through the same situation. So, I decided to use our stories as inspiration for DREAM.”

Thanks to its dynamic combination of original music, choreography and relatable characters, DREAM: THE MUSICAL is a show with potential to attract a wide variety of viewers. “The show is designed on universal/global level for a diverse audience base. There is sex, talent, jealousy, hope, heartbreak and the underdog wins as the plot line in the episodes,” says West. “People of any ethnic and socio-economic background will be able to identify with DREAM.”

unnamed-4In fact, West says, those factors make DREAM: THE MUSICAL a show that’s quite possibly one of a kind. “I believe that there hasn’t been anything like it to hit the web. It is, in all of its essence, an urban musical. Completely original songs and choreography,” he adds. “And I do believe it is in a genre of its own.”

As he prepared to finish his studies, West began working on the overall storylines for DREAM. “Before graduating from college, I had written the first batch of scripts, then enlisted the help of the phenomenal writer Selana (Allen). She brought a woman’s touch to the scripts, and helped me to further develop the characters and episodes.”

In addition to helping West write the series, Allen also oversaw audio, and served as the show’s assistant director and production manager. Bringing DREAM to life was truly a team effort for West, Allen, and the show’s cast.

For West, playing a variety of different roles during the show’s production was, and is, highly rewarding. “I am the executive producer, editor, cinematographer, choreographer, record producer as well as the director of the show. Whew…that’s a lot, right? But, I live for this life. It’s in my system. I honestly can’t help myself.”

Working on the show’s original songs was also a family affair for West. “My younger brother, Trent Westbrook occasionally collaborates with me on the production of some of the beats for the music,” he adds.

unnamed-7While big budget network TV series like Fox’s GLEE, and its newest hit EMPIRE, have brought musical drama to millions of viewers each week, one would easily compare a show like DREAM: THE MUSICAL to those. However, as West says, there are some major differences between them.

“The show is like EMPIRE and GLEE on a grassroots level. It’s funny because I know the comparisons are gonna come,” adds West. “But, in our defense we were shooting way before EMPIRE was released.”

Another way that DREAM stands out is in its approach to filming each episode. As West explains, the show’s impromptu production style adds to the overall effectiveness of each episode. “Production is very guerilla. But that also makes it fun and gives us a backstory,” he says.

In fact, it also gives West plenty of opportunities to improve as a filmmaker. “I am constantly asking myself, ‘how can I make this look like a Hollywood production on a significantly lower budget, and in some cases no budget?’ It has helped to grow my skills as a film producer, so I can’t complain,” West adds.

Creating a movie, TV show or web series on a limited budget, though, takes a tremendous amount of work. For West, producing quality content within the constraints of such a budget has allowed him to develop seemingly unheard-of methods to accomplish getting DREAM off the ground.

unnamed-6“Producing DREAM takes great passion, patience, humor, and at times, almost revolutionary ways to accomplish things. That’s why we check out the cast to the best of our ability to secure reliable and committed artists,” West says.

Given its low budget, the task of bringing each episode of DREAM to the screen was filled with difficulties. “It’s not too easy. There is no studio to use as a cushion, yet. The process has its challenges and its rewards,” West says. Yet, he adds, his talents, plus the dedication he has towards them, make that task all the more rewarding. “When I create the choreography, record the songs, or sit to edit the shots, it’s all an experience in self discipline, and faith!”

While DREAM has yet to launch its crowd funding campaign for season 1, West believes that the show’s potential for success makes it worth every penny. “Our strategy is that after our first episode is released, we will begin a funding campaign to help us complete the season (because film production is not cheap)! But, I believe in the story and the talent,” West says.

Perhaps more importantly, though, West feels that the most important investment anyone can make is one that’s much more valuable than money. It’s a belief he practices as both a filmmaker, and as a man. “I was always told when I was younger, why would anybody else invest in you if you don’t invest in yourself? So, my motto now is self-investment.”

unnamed-2While shows like GLEE, FAME, SMASH and countless others have entered and exited the spotlight, West hopes that DREAM: THE MUSICAL will endure with audiences as much as some of the greatest musicals ever produced for stage and screen.

“Artistically, I want to create something innovative. I want to do what GREASE and SINGING IN THE RAIN did for generations,” says West. “Times have changed now, and things come and go much faster than they once did. I want to create something that will be held dear to people for generations to come.”

DREAM: THE MUSICAL is more than just another musical drama. It’s a compelling personal story of people who are determined to achieve their dreams – no matter how insurmountable the odds. Through his series, West hopes that viewers will be inspired by the stories portrayed in each episode, while hoping that they will continue to pursue their own paths to success.

For them, he has this message: “…I want people to see that regardless of the hardship, and/or the glitz, you must remain committed to your dreams and its mission by any means necessary,” West says. “You can do it! Don’t give up! Just because it seems hard now doesn’t mean it will always be that way, Remain resilient! What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”

(Note: Regarding closed-captioning of the series, West says: “It isn’t closed-captioned yet. However, it will be in the future.”)





The show’s trailer can be viewed here: