When Red Mountain Theatre hired Vasthy Mompoint to teach at one of their youth camps last spring, they weren’t aware that the Broadway actress, singer and dancer was from Birmingham.
But she gave herself away in an email about five days before she arrived.
“I told them about my unhealthy obsession with Milo’s,” she says with a laugh. “They said, ‘Wait, you’re from here?’”
Mompoint enjoyed teaching at the workshop, and now she’s back, making her directing debut and also serving as choreographer of RMT’s “Dreamgirls,” which has performances Feb. 3-19.
The six-time Tony-winning musical tells the story of the Dreams, based on singing groups such as the Supremes and the Shirelles. The original production made stars of Jennifer Holliday and Sheryl Lee Ralph, and a 2006 movie version starred Jennifer Hudson (who won an Oscar for it), Beyonce and Jamie Foxx.
Mompoint, who graduated from Hoover High School before forging a career in New York and Los Angeles, initially turned RMT director Roy Lightner down when he suggested she take the helm of “Dreamgirls.”
“It was a great offer, but I had never done that before,” she says. “I always have people telling me I can do more than I think. I was still on the fence, but then I saw Red Mountain’s production of ‘Kinky Boots.’ The talent was wild, and I thought, if this is the talent I’m dealing with, let’s do it.”
Mompoint’s eight Broadway shows include “Mary Poppins,” “Rocky” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” She also appeared in “The Prom” on Broadway and when it was filmed for Netflix. She most recently choreographed the documentary parody “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”
She’s never seen the stage version of “Dreamgirls,” but she’s seen the movie, and she thinks it comes closer to her vision of the musical.
“The stage musical didn’t really humanize the people,” she says. “It was created by Black people but not written by Black people, and the women in the show were pretty one-dimensional. They’re angry or traumatized, but there’s so much more than angry or traumatized. There were so many more layers, and I couldn’t wait to explore that.”
She also wanted to explore the time period of the show, the late ‘60s.
“I think it’s important to remind the audience that it’s just not the characters going through this,” Mompoint says of “Dreamgirls,” which has the Dreams attaining great success, but at the expense of lifelong friendships. “It’s them also going through real events going on in the world.”
After “Dreamgirls,” Mompoint will return to Los Angeles, where she’s part of the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase. She has appeared on a number of TV series and is the voice of Briny the Whale on “Baby Shark.”
But visits back to Birmingham will be in her future.
Mompoint still has a sister, brother-in-law and three of her best friends in Birmingham.
“It’s great to be around people I love and who’ve known me for so long,” she says. “One of the great things about the job is being home.
“And Milo’s,” she adds. “I get extra sauce, extra pickles all the time.”
“Dreamgirls,” at Red Mountain Theatre Feb. 3-19. Buy tickets here.