By Adam Hetrick
24 Jan 2008
Gary Griffin directed the musical featuring a score by pop writers Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray with a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman. The Color Purple began previews on Broadway Nov. 1, 2005, and officially opened at the Broadway Theatre Dec. 1, 2005. It will have played 30 previews and 910 regular performances when it closes Feb. 24.
"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," stated Color Purple lead producer Scott Sanders.
Oprah Winfrey, who earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in the 1985 Steven Spielberg film and currently serves as presenting producer of the musical, offered, "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."
Following a world premiere engagement at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2004, The Color Purple was nominated for 11 2006 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, when it premiered on Broadway. The Broadway cast currently stars newcomer Zonya Love as Celie – the disheartened central character who ultimately finds love and acceptance within herself.
The choice role earned actress LaChanze a 2006 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino, who concluded her critically acclaimed engagement in the Broadway production Jan. 6, succeeded the Tony-winning actress in the role of Celie.
The Color Purple 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. Jones also plays the role of Sofia during matinee performances.
"I always thought Celie's journey was universal," Color Purple lead producer Scott Sanders told Playbill.com during rehearsals in 2005. "We all have obstacles to overcome and while our life's journey may not be identical to Celie, I think that triumph over adversity and moving on and finding self-love and yourself and your voice is something that we all need to do."
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. In addition, former member of Destiny's Child, Michelle Williams, plays soul-singer Shug Avery, while "American Idol"'s LaToya London portrays Nettie.
The national tour is currently schedule to run through 2009, with engagements in Tempe, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
The current Broadway company also includes Montego Glover as Nettie, Tony nominee Elisabeth Withers-Mendes as Shug Avery, Alton 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.
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 design team comprises John Lee Beatty (sets), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting) and Jon Weston (sound).
The additional Broadway producing team includes 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.