Oprah Winfrey Joins Producers of Broadway's The Color Purple Musical Adaptation

News   Oprah Winfrey Joins Producers of Broadway's The Color Purple Musical Adaptation Oprah Winfrey — the television celebrity-entrepreneur who starred in the film of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel — has joined the producing team of Broadway's upcoming musical adaptation of The Color Purple.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey Photo by Jake Chessum

Based on Alice Walker's book and the Steven Spielberg film of the same name, the new musical begins previews at the Broadway Theatre Nov. 1 toward an official opening Dec. 1. The show will now reflect the addition of Forbes magazine's most powerful celebrity as the sole, above the title, presenting producer.

"'The Color Purple' has long been a part of my life, from the first time I read it over 20 years ago until now, I've always wanted as many people as possible to experience this story," stated Winfrey in a release. "To present this Broadway production is a dream come true and a full circle moment for me."

Gary Griffin stages the work featuring a book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman ('night, Mother). Music is by pop songwriters Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

The Color Purple is "an inspiring family saga that tells the unforgettable story of a woman, who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world," as a release states. The show's score blends "gospel, jazz, ragtime and the blues."

The Broadway show will receive $1 million of its $10 million capitalization from Winfrey, reported the New York Times. The TV talk show's name recognition and support is expected to bolster the show's box office numbers in the same way her book club selections buoy book sales. As a built-in promotion benefit, the collaboration is also expected to produce an appearance of Broadway cast members on her nationally syndicated talk show. The surnameless star LaChanze (Once on This Island, Ragtime, Company) reprises her turn as the story's central character Celie from the world premiere at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in fall 2004. Broadway newcomer Elisabeth Withers appears as Shug with Renée Elise Goldsberry (The Lion King) featured as Nettie, joining original Atlanta stars Felicia P. Fields as Sofia and Kingsley Leggs as Mister. (Saycon Sengbloh originally played Nettie with Adriane Lenox as Shug in Atlanta.)

The cast also features Brandon Victor Dixon as Harpo, Krisha Marcano as Squeak and includes Jeannette Bayardelle, James Brown III, Eric L. Christian, Latrisa Coleman, Bobby Daye, Carol Dennis, Anika Ellis, Doug Eskew, Bahiyah Sayyed Gaines, Zipporah Gatling, Charles Gray, Stephanie Guiland-Brown, James Harkness, Francesca Harper, Kimberly Ann Harris, Chantylla Johnson, Grasan Kingsberry, Corinne McFarlane, Kenita R. Miller, JC Montgomery, Lou Myers, Angela Robinson, Nathaniel Stampley, Jamal Story, Leon Thomas III, Maia Nkenge Wilson and Virginia Woodruff.

Donald Byrd choreographs for the musical. Orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick, Kevin Stites is music supervisor and Linda Twine serves as musical director. The Color Purple design team features John Lee Beatty (scenic), Brian MacDevitt (lighting), Paul Tazewell (costume) and Jon Weston (sound).

Winfrey joins The Color Purple Broadway producers which includes Scott Sanders, Roy Furman, Quincy Jones, 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.

The novel by Walker was adapted for the screen in 1985 under the direction of Steven Spielberg. The movie version starred Whoopi Goldberg as Celie, Oprah Winfrey as Sofia and Danny Glover as Albert.

Tickets for The Color Purple are currently on sale through (212) 239-6200 or via the link below. The Broadway Theatre Box Office, at 1681 Broadway, opened Oct. 3.

For more information and exclusive clips of songs provided by Playbill.com, visit the website at www.colorpurple.com.

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