Denise Lee knows she is no spring chicken — she ain’t happy about it, but she knows it.

“I’m too old to be a Dreamgirl,” she grimaces.

She’s also not a Size 2, not a perky blonde and isn’t waiting to be tapped as Sutton Foster’s stand-by. Simply put, she’s too old, too fat and too black to be singing songs on Broadway.
Hey … that could be the makings of a show! And it is.

Since March, Lee has been the driving force organizing a series of monthly cabarets at the former Women’s Museum in Fair Park. She’s booked talents from Sara Shelby-Martin (in her debut solo cabaret) to Gary Lynn Floyd to a night of jazz. (The series has been a fast hit, and has already been greenlit for a second season, starting in November.) But now it’s her turn to take on the songs she loves but doesn’t get asked to do.

She’ll get to be a Dreamgirl for one night at least on Tuesday, singing one of the memorable numbers from that show at her solo cabaret Too Old, Too Fat, Too Black: Songs I’ll Never Sing on Broadway.

“I’m trying to get people to follow the art, so I want to make sure I bring a wide variety of entertainment,” Lee says. But this week is her turn, closing the series with song from Dreamgirls, Ragtime and many other musicals. “You will hear some version of ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie,” Lee promises, “and all of the songs there will be a reason why I won’t get to do them on Broadway.” New York’s loss is Dallas’ gain.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Women’s Museum Building at Fair Park. July 28. 7 p.m. doors, 7:30 p.m. curtain. Free.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 24, 2015.