Broadway actress LaChanze created the role of Celie — the young woman who learns how to love others, and more importantly, herself — in The Color Purple, earning a Tony Award for her work. She was succeeded in the role by "American Idol" winner Fantasia, who drew raves for her performance. Celie is currently being played by Zonya Love, who is making her Broadway debut.
Gary Griffin directed Purple, which features a score by pop writers Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray and a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman. The musical began previews Nov. 1, 2005, and officially opened at the Broadway Theatre Dec. 1, 2005.
In a recent statement Purple's lead producer Scott Sanders said, "I am extremely proud of this new musical we have brought to life, its creative success and the way in which we have been able to expand the Broadway audience in a culturally significant way."
Oprah Winfrey, who earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in the 1985 Steven Spielberg film and was the presenting producer of the musical, added, "I'm so proud to have been a part of this production that not only made Broadway history, but resonated with a new generation and touched the lives of more than one million theatregoers."
Winfrey previously hinted that The Color Purple may find its way back to the screen in a new film adaptation of the musical. The Broadway production recouped its $11 million investment within its first year on Broadway. The Color Purple also currently features Grammy Award winners Chaka Khan as Sofia and Bebe Winans as Harpo – as well as "American Idol" finalist Lakisha Jones as the Church Soloist.
The company also includes Montego Glover as Nettie, Angela Robinson as Shug Avery, Alton Fitzgerald White as Mister and Krisha Marcano as Squeak with Leilani N. Bryant, Teresa Stanley, Yolanda Wyns, Larry Marshall, Deidra H. Brooks, Eric L. Christian, Latrisa A. Coleman, Ruby E. Crawford, Bobby Daye, Doug Eskew, Lavon Fisher-Wilson, Charles Gray, Gavin Gregory, Stephanie Guiland-Brown, James Harkness, Francesca Harper, Chauncey Jenkins, Ashley Reneé Jordan Brandi Chavonne Massey, Kenya Unique Massey, Marla McReynolds, Jenny Mollet, JC Montgomery, Angela Robinson, Levensky Smith, Ricky Smith and Jamal Story.
Following a world premiere engagement at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2004, The Color Purple arrived on Broadway, earning 11 2006 Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical.
A successful national tour of the musical currently stars Color Purple veterans Jeannette Bayardelle as Celie and Tony nominee Felicia P. Fields as Sofia – a role she originated in the Broadway production. Michelle Williams, a former member of Destiny's Child, plays soul-singer Shug Avery, while "American Idol" veteran LaToya London portrays Nettie.
Songs in the production include "Overture," "Huckleberry Pie/Mysterious Ways," "Somebody Gonna Love You, "Our Prayer/I Really Want That Girl," "That Fine Mister," "Big Dog/Our Prayer (Reprise)," "Bring My Nettie Back," "Lily of the Field," "Dear God – Sofia," "A Tree Named Sofia," Hell No!," "Brown Betty," "Shug Avery Comin’ to Town," "Too Beautiful for Words," "Push Da Button," "Uh-Oh!," "What About Love?," "Africa," "The Color Purple," "A Church Ladies’ Easter," "With These Hands," "Miss Celie's Pants," "Is There Anything I Can Do for You?," "What About Love? (Reprise)," "I'm Here," "A Church Ladies' Fourth of July," "The Color Purple (Reprise)."
The additional Broadway producing team included Quincy Jones, Roy Furman, Creative Battery, Anna Fantaci & Cheryl Lachowicz, Independent Presenters Network, Lowy Family Group, Stephanie McClelland, Gary Winnick, Jan Kallish, Andrew Asnes & Adam Zotovich and Todd Johnson.
For tickets call (212) 239-6200, visit the Broadway Theatre box office at 1681 Broadway or visit the website at www.colorpurple.com.
Shrek the Musical will bound its way into the Broadway Theatre starting Nov. 8.