LaChanze Confirmed as Leading Lady of Color Purple Musical; Broadway Cast Announced
By Ernio Hernandez
LaChanze will star on Broadway with Elisabeth Withers, Felicia P. Fields, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Kingsley Leggs in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple, the producers announced Sept. 7.
Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel 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.
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 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. Her casting was previously reported by Playbill.com. Broadway newcomer 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.
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."
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).
The Color Purple is produced on Broadway by Scott Sanders, Roy Furman, Quincy Jones, Creative Battery, Freddy DeMann & Stephanie McClelland, Anna Fantaci & Cheryl Lachowicz, Independent Presenters Network, Lowy Family Group, Gary Winnick, Andrew Asnes & Adam Zotovich, Jan Kallish 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) 239-2980 to Visa Signature cardholders and starting Sept. 11 will be available to all Visa cardholders. The pre-sale ends Sept. 18 when the general public can purchase them through (212) 239-6200. The Broadway Theatre Box Office opens 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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