Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the musical, 'The Color Purple' is Winfrey's first Broadway venture where she has contributed more than $1 million of the musical's $10 million production cost. 'The Color Purple musical' is told through the eyes of Celie, a timid young Southern woman who is raped by her father, gives birth to two children and suffers years of cruelty married to an abusive man. During the trying times, Celie's character develops from a homely teenager with a bruised heart to a self-confident woman in her late 50s.
The powerful presence of Oprah Winfrey's name is great for the stage version of 'The Color Purple'. Celebrity producers are rare on or off-Broadway and who can be bigger than Winfrey? With such a diverse national audience, Oprah can give the show a visibility that will hopefully translates into ticket sales. Her attachment gives out the message that Broadway is not an elitist art form but something everyone can embrace. Associated with 'The Color Purple' for eight years, Producer Scott Sanders received quite a jolt when he received Winfrey's telephone call who wanted not only to help in marketing but to invest in the show, too.
Revised after receiving mixed reviews when it opened in Atlanta last year, it will be called Oprah Winfrey Presents: 'The Color Purple play.'" As Winfrey told the Times it was 'a secret dream' of hers to be part of Broadway. She wants to open the door to the possibilities for this production so that a world of people who have never been or even thought of going to a Broadway show would at least consider it. The same way she has done for books via her Oprah's Book Club, which celebrates the joy of reading. Winfrey was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 1985 film version of 'The Color Purple,' directed by Steven Spielberg. It starred Whoopi Goldberg as Celie, Oprah Winfrey as Sofia and Danny Glover as Albert and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Walker's book has been adapted by Marsha Norman, author of "'night, Mother," while the score is by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. This Winfrey production is directed by Gary Griffin, a Chicago-based director best known for his small-scale productions of musicals such as 'My Fair Lady' and 'Pacific Overtures.' The choreographer is Donald Byrd. Quincy Jones, Scott Sanders and Roy Furman are the other producers besides Winfrey. Replacing actress LaChanze, Fantasia has taken over the role of Celie in the musical. She even performed 'I'm Here' from The Color Purple in a special appearance at the 61st Annual Tony Awards.
It is not just a musical to see, it is to be felt as it is brutally honest and all the actors do a commendable job to bring forward the emotions. Recently, The Color Purple on Broadway celebrated their one millionth audience member. Hopefully this extra-ordinary show will become another feather is Winfrey's cap just as her own media including her popular syndicated TV talk show as well as her magazine O and Oprah's Book Club.
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