Musical Purlie and Director Epps Aiming for Broadway Next Season

News   Musical Purlie and Director Epps Aiming for Broadway Next Season
Director Sheldon Epps is set to make the theatre rounds from coast to coast with separate stagings of the musical Purlie in the coming year.

The journey for the director and musical begins as part of 2005 City Center Encores! series. Epps is slated to stage a concert version of the show, March 31-April 3 for the New York City presentation.

Epps will then stage a full production at Pasadena Playhouse — where he serves as the artistic director. The California stage will team with producer James N. Vagias to present the work, June 24-July 31.

Plans are also afoot for the work to head back to New York for a Broadway staging in the 2005-2006 season, according to a Pasadena release. Prior to its Great White Way opening, Variety reports, the work will make a stop at Chicago's Goodman Theatre for a September run.

A Broadway revival of the work would mark the director's first return to The Great White Way since his 1997 staging of Play On! Epps has also staged Blues in the Night, Scenes and Revelations and Blue in New York. The director has also headed On Borrowed Time, Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting, The Real Thing, The Old Settler, The Importance of Being Earnest and As Bees in Honey Drown at his homestage in Pasadena.

Purlie finds a young idealistic preacher and his attempt to free the Southern townsfolk from the grips of slavery and racism. The Georgia-set musical is based on the play Purlie Victorious by Ossie Davis and features the music of Gary Geld with lyrics by Peter Udell and a book by Udell, Davis and Philip Rose — the latter originally produced and directed the work. The score features the songs "Walk Him Up The Stairs," "The Harder They Fall," "Big Fish, Little Fish," "I Got Love," "Down Home" and the title track.

The original Broadway production of Purlie opened March 15, 1970 and ran for over a year at 688 performances. The show was nominated for Best Musical and won two Tony Awards for stars Cleavon Little and Melba Moore. The team of Udell, Geld and Rose later collaborated on another long-running musical Shenandoah.

For information on the forthcoming Purlie stagings at City Center Encores! and Pasadena Playhouse, visit their respective websites at and

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