The Color Purple to Get a New Celie and New Misters Nov. 7

News   The Color Purple to Get a New Celie and New Misters Nov. 7 Jeannette I. Bayardelle — who currently understudies the role of Celie — will assume the lead in Broadway's The Color Purple Nov. 7, replacing the show's Tony Award-winning originator LaChanze. Two other actors, Kingsley Leggs and Lou Myers, will also leave the show.

Jeannette I. Bayardelle
Jeannette I. Bayardelle

Alton Fitzgerald White will assume the role of Mister (originally played by Leggs) and Larry Marshall takes over as 'Ol Mister (for Lou Myers).

A Gospel recording artist, Bayardelle released her debut CD, "Praise Report," in September 2005. On stage she has appeared in the national tours of Big River, Rent and Sister Act as well as Off-Broadway in Best of Both Worlds.

White is a Broadway veteran of The Lion King (Mufasa), Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker Jr.), The Who’s Tommy, Smokey Joe's Cafe and in the original cast of Miss Saigon. Marshall was last seen in this summer's Mother Courage in Central Park and has appeared on Broadway in Porgy and Bess, The Full Monty, Rockaby Hamlet, Hair, Two Gentleman of Verona and Threepenny Opera (with Sting).

The new cast members will join current stars (and Tony Award nominees) Elisabeth Withers-Mendes as Shug Avery, Felicia P. Fields as Sophia and Brandon Victor Dixon as Harpo. Darlesia Cearcy as Nettie and Krisha Marcano as Squeak are also featured.

The ensemble also includes James Brown III, Eric L. Christian, Latrisa Coleman, Bobby Daye, Carol Dennis, Doug Eskew, Bahiyah Sayyed Gaines, Zipporah G. Gatling, Charles Gray, Gavin Gregory, Stephanie Guiland-Brown, James Harkness, Francesca Harper, Kimberly Ann Harris, Chantylla Johnson, Kenya Unique Massey, Corinne McFarlane, Kenita R. Miller, JC Montgomery, Angela Robinson, Kemba Shannon, Levensky Smith, Ricky Smith, Jamal Story, Daniel J. Watts, Maia Nkenge Wilson and Virginia Woodruff. *

"As an actress who has performed in theater for over 17 years, my experience performing in The Color Purple has been a truly life-changing journey," LaChanze says of the musical. "While my first love will always be the theater, I'm looking forward to spending some time with my family and pursue opportunities in the TV, film and publishing worlds. The theater community will always remain a big part of my life and I hope to re-join the cast of The Color Purple at some point down the road."

According to a release, LaChanze has signed on to write two new children's books with Jean Fiewel at Fiewel & Friends which are slated to begin publishing in Fall 2008. The actress — who has been with the musical since its inception — will play out her contract which ends Nov. 5. No replacement has yet been named.

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LaChanze is a veteran of such musicals as Once on This Island and Ragtime. She has appeared in Off-Broadway's Dessa Rose opposite her "Lucy" CBS TV movie co-star Rachel York. Other stage credits include The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin and The Vagina Monologues.

Gary Griffin directs The Color Purple which began previews Nov. 1 at the Broadway Theatre. The work features a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman ('night, Mother) and music by pop songwriters Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

Spanning over 40 years, 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."

Tickets for The Color Purple are on sale through (212) 239-6200 or at the Broadway Theatre Box Office, at 1681 Broadway. For more information, visit the website at www.colorpurple.com.

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