In 1982 Alice Walker published an extraordinary novel that would go on to not only win awards and set records, but remain instrumental in constructing cinematic, stage, and Black history.
On Nov. 10, more than 30 years after its inception, a new edition of Walker’s “The Color Purple” will be released alongside the highly anticipated musical revival. Featuring artwork and exclusive elements from the newest stage production, the special edition, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books, is available the same date the musical begins Broadway previews, Nov. 10th, 2015.
“The Color Purple” tells the inspirational story of Celie, who through faith and the power of love, triumphs over relentless pain and adversity to find the God-given strength she never knew she had.
Over the years, “The Color Purple” has received as much commendation as it has criticism. In 1983, the novel received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. Despite the stigma surrounding its themes of sexism, racism and violence, Steven Spielberg took on the courageous task of directing the film adaptation in 1985. Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover, the film went on to receive 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, but failed to win any.
A musical adaptation of the famed novel came to Broadway in 2005, produced by Scott Sanders, Quincy Jones, Harvey Weinstein, and original film cast member, Winfrey. Starring LaChanze as Celie, the musical also received 11 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. LaChanze took the award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Now, following rave reviews in London, American fans of the original production are eager to experience director John Doyle’s stripped down version of The Color Purple, starring Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks, which opens Dec. 10.
Alice Walker’s literary contribution is epic and the re-release marks the commemoration of a story that needs to be heard and hopefully will be for years to come. I have seen the musical three times, watched the movie more times than I can count, but I must say, nothing compares to her words. I implore you to read this beautiful novel. Knowing it will only make every other adaptation that much more remarkable.
On October 29th, 2015 Alice Walker and the stars of The Color Purple revival, Cynthia Erivo & Jennifer Hudson, along with the director of the Broadway revival, John Doyle will sit down at John L Tishman Auditorium at The New School for a TimesTalks conversation. Watch the live stream with us below at 7:30pm EST!
Don’t miss this exciting conversation with musical performances from the new Broadway production of “The Color Purple.” Hear Alice Walker, author of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel; Tony Award winner John Doyle, who re–envisioned the new, critically acclaimed musical; and two of its stars – Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, and from the hit London production, British stage star Cynthia Erivo, both making their Broadway debuts. Moderated by New York Times theater reporter Michael Paulson.
The Public Theater Will Present Hercules Musical & Hercules Is Black!
We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when. Back in 2017, we reported that a musical adaptation of the Disney movie Hercules would be headed to Broadway. Now we can confirm that is somewhat true.
Hercules will be the latest Disney musical to be made for the stage and will play Off-Broadway at the Public Theater’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park. As the final show of the Shakespeare in the Park season theater season performances will run August 31 through September 8 with a reading set to take place in April.
The role of Hercules will be played by a Black actor, according to the casting notice
The musical will include the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance, along with other songs from the 1997 animated film by Alan Menken & David Zippel. Presented through an arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, the show will be directed by Lear deBessonet. The creative team also includes a book by Kristoffer Diaz, & choreography by Chase Brock.
Before Hercules, Kenny Leon will direct the Much Ado About Nothing May 21 through June 23 to begin the Shakespeare in the Park season.
Casting for all both productions will be announced at a later date
Lynn Nottage Today, Tomorrow and Beyond
Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Tony Award nominated play Sweat ended its Broadway run at Studio 54 on June 25. We weren’t ready to say goodbye to Sweat, and we’re definitely not ready to say goodbye to Lynn Nottage, leaving us to wonder what’s next for the two-time Pulitzer prize-winning playwright?
First, if you didn’t get a chance to see Sweat on Broadway or if you did but can’t get one of the poorest cities in America off your heart and mind, then you’ll want to visit Reading, Pennsylvania this summer. Shortly after finishing Sweat, Nottage came up with the idea for a site-specific performance installation honoring the people of Reading. Nottage shared that for a city divided by economical and racial politics, she wanted to highlight the city’s potential to use art and culture to bring its citizens together. The installation titled This is Reading will weave “individual stories into one cohesive and compelling tale of the city. Exploring the various viewpoints of the diverse community, [and] give the audience a vibrant and unique perspective of the city of Reading.” The installation will utilize live performance, visual media, and film. Located at Franklin Street Station, Reading PA, This is Reading will run July 14-16, July 21-23 and July 28-30.
What could possibly be next for Nottage? A musical of course!
Not just any musical, but an adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Secret Life of Bees. Book by Nottage, music by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam) and direction by Sam Gold (Fun Home).
Nottage’s first musical follows the story of Lilly Owens, a white teen growing up in 1960’s South Carolina and her Black caretaker Rosaleen. After Rosaleen is hospitalized following an attempt to vote, she and Lily do their best to escape the harsh realities of their respective lives in the Jim Crow South, and happen upon a bee farm. “It sang to me” Nottage said of adapting Kidd’s book to a musical, “Every page I saw a song.”
The Secret Life of Bees will be presented as a workshop production at the Powerhouse Theater from July 27-29, apart of the New York Stage and Film’s 2017 season.
Finally, for the 2017/2018 season, Nottage’s play Mlima’s Tale will make it’s world premiere at The Public Theater and run from March 27 through May 20, 2018. Mlima’s Tale follows the story of Mlima, an african elephant caught between freedom and the
international ivory black market. Ultimately a story about trade itself, “Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, want and need, and reveals the surprising and complicated deals that connect us all.” Next season, The Public will celebrate 50 years at its Astor Place location, and Lynn Nottage will be the only Black playwright with work presented.
From a site-specific performance installation, to her first musical, ending with another show at The Public Theater… Lynn Nottage has given us a lot to look forward to following her Broadway debut, and we will be ready. Sitting front and center.