Press representatives for the musical previously announced that Withers-Mendes would exit the Broadway production Jan. 31, but intended to return for the final two performances of The Color Purple, which is scheduled to conclude its Broadway run Feb. 24. The Tony-nominated actress is leaving the production in order to record a forthcoming album.
Late Jan. 29, Withers-Mendes' manager informed representatives for the musical that due to scheduling conflicts with her upcoming album, the actress would be unable to return to The Color Purple, and that Jan. 31 would officially be her final performance.
Withers-Mendes was Tony-nominated for portraying the sultry singer Shug Avery in The Color Purple. The musical marked the Broadway debut for Withers-Mendes, who has enjoyed a successful career in the recording industry, having penned the number-one Billboard hit "Emotions." The singer-actress has performed with artists such as Luther Vandross, Cher, Celine Dion and Henry Krieger. In 2006 she released her latest album "It Can Happen to Anyone."
Angela Robinson assumes the role of Shug beginning Feb. 1. Robinson has performed in the Broadway companies of Wonderful Town, Bells Are Ringing, and Play On!, as well as in the Public Theater production of Radiant Baby.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker – The Color Purple – under the direction of Gary Griffin, began previews on Broadway Nov. 1, 2005, and officially opened at the Broadway Theatre Dec. 1, 2005. The musical features a score by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray and a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman.
The Broadway cast currently stars newcomer Zonya Love as Celie, as well as Grammy Award winners Chaka Khan as Sofia, Bebe Winans as Harpo, and "American Idol" finalist Lakisha Jones as the Church Soloist. Jones also plays the role of Sofia during matinee performances.
The Broadway company of The Color Purple also includes Montego Glover as Nettie, Fitzgerald White as Mister and Krisha Marcano as Squeak. Also featured are 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.
For tickets call (212) 239-6200, visit the Broadway Theatre box office at 1681 Broadway or visit the website at www.colorpurple.com.