Set in the turbulent early 1960s to mid-70s, the tale follows the rise of a trio of women, Effie, Deena and Lorrell, who have formed a promising girl group called The Dreamettes. At a talent competition, they are discovered by an ambitious manager named Curtis Taylor Jr., who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime: to become the back-up singers for headliner James "Thunder" Early. Curtis gradually takes control of the girls' look and sound, eventually giving them their own shot in the spotlight as The Dreams. That spotlight, however, begins to narrow in on Deena, finally pushing the less attractive Effie out altogether. Though the Dreams become a cross-over phenomenon, they soon realize that the cost of fame and fortune may be higher than they ever imagined.