Back to IndieWire

Cynthia Erivo Will Play Celie in Oprah Winfrey-Backed Revival of ‘The Color Purple’ (Jennifer Hudson Is Shug)

Cynthia Erivo Will Play Celie in Oprah Winfrey-Backed Revival of 'The Color Purple' (Jennifer Hudson Is Shug)

Cynthia Erivo has been cast to play Celie in this fall’s Oprah Winfrey-produced Broadway revival of “The Color Purple,” which is currently set for a December 3 open at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
Erivo, a British actress making her New York stage debut, will reprise the role she played to glowing reviews at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London.
She joins the previously-cast Jennifer Hudson, also making her Broadway debut, as Shug, in the musical revival, which Oprah Winfrey will return to produce, and back, with her theatrical business partner Scott Sanders.

John Doyle is directing.

Just as I pondered when “A Raisin in the Sun” was revived yet again, last year, with Denzel Washington starring, just 10 years after its previous run in 2004, surely there must be some unexplored, original plays, written by black playwrights that are worth exploring, instead of this continuous recycling of tried and true material. Then again, I suppose that’s the point: guaranteed box office – well, most of the time, especially with a name like Oprah’s behind it, and a well-known face in Hudson in front of it.

The novel was adapted into a film of the same name in 1985, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starred Whoopi Goldberg as Celie, Danny Glover as Albert, and Oprah Winfrey as Sofia. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, it won none.

A musical adaptation of the novel opened on Broadway in December 2005. The show was produced by Scott Sanders, Quincy Jones, Harvey Weinstein, and Oprah Winfrey, who was also an investor. It was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score Written for the Theater, and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (LaChanze). LaChanze won the Tony Award, though the show itself won no other awards. 

In April 2007, Fantasia Barrino took over the role of Celie from LaChanze, until the Broadway production ended its run in early 2008.

So, really, it’s been only about 7 years since its last run ended.

Well, the good news is that black actors will be working here, and earning some rent and food money.

In the videos that follow, meet Cynthia Erivo and watch scenes from the London production of the show which she starred in, that’s coming to Broadway:

This Article is related to: News and tagged , , ,