As first reported by Playbill On-Line, La Chanze will star as Celie in the show which is set for a Sept. 9-Oct. 17 world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta before a fall 2005 berth on Broadway.
Chicago director Gary Griffin stages the work featuring a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman ('night, Mother) based on the Alice Walker Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Music is by pop songwriters Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. The show will blend "dance with the sounds and rhythms of blues, gospel, jazz, swing, rural roots and African music," according to a release.
The story of "The Color Purple" centers on Celie, a woman who endures insurmountable hardships within her own family and struggles to find her identity and love. Walker's characters convey a tale of hope, inspiration and personal triumph.
"It's going to be a difficult show," choreographer Ken Roberson (Avenue Q) previously told Playbill On-Line (May 2004) about the challenge of the work's weighty story, "but the music is just beautiful."
LaChanze is a veteran of such musicals as Once on This Island and Ragtime. The actress, who appeared in a recent Manhattan reading of the work with Jesse L. Martin and Tony Award-winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change), has also been seen on the stage in The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin and The Vagina Monologues. She will star in a cast of 24 backed by 12 musicians, confirmed a production spokesperson. No other casting is confirmed. Ken Roberson (Avenue Q) choreographs and Linda Twine (Caroline, or Change) serves as musical director. The Color Purple design team features John Lee Beatty (scenic), Brian MacDevitt (lighting), Paul Tazewell (costume) and Jon Weston (sound).
The world premiere of the new musical will be produced by Alliance Theatre by special arrangement with Creative Battery and Scott Sanders Productions.
Tickets to The Color Purple at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA are currently available by subscription and group sales only. For more information, call (404) 733-4600. Visit them on the web at www.alliancetheatre.org.