Leicester’s Curve theatre and Birmingham Hippodrome have announced the cast of their co-production of acclaimed musical THE COLOR PURPLE, which will visit Wales Millennium Centre next week while on tour for the first time.

You may only know the story from the Oscar winning, Steven Spielberg directed movie which starred Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. Or maybe you’ve read the original, and quite frankly brilliant Pulitzer prize-winning novel by ALICE WALKER. Now, the story is taken to a whole new level of intensity as it takes to the stage here for the first time.

In fact, to show how successful the musical adaption is, it’s due out next year as a BLITZ BAZAWULE directed film. But let me tell you, that on stage is where you really need to see it, and with an incredible cast, and first rate production team, we are in for something very special when the tour gets here next week.

The story remains the same:

The 1930s-set family chronicle centres on black teenager Celie, and tells the powerful and life-affirming story of the courageous heroine. Abused and oppressed throughout her youth, Celie embarks on a journey through joy, despair, anguish and hope, discovering her own unique voice thanks to the incredible women in her life.

From an unbreakable bond with her sister Nettie, to friendship with fiercely independent Sofia and a life-changing affair with glamorous singer Shug Avery, Celie learns to love herself.

The musical premiered in 2004, moving to Broadway the following year and going on to be nominated for ten Tony Awards. It ran until 2008 and has since been revived for several national US tours

Leading the company as the downtrodden but full-hearted heroine Celie is Me’sha Bryan, whose previous roles have included Romantics Anonymous (Bristol Old Vic), Caroline, or Change (The Playhouse Theatre) and The Lion King (UK tour). The role of glamorous singer Shug Avery will be played by Bree Smith (The Wiz, Hope Mill Theatre), Aaliyah Zhané (The Comedy of Errors, Mercury Theatre) joins as Celie’s sister Nettie, Harpo will be played by Ahmed Hamad (The Addams Family, UK Tour and The Boy in the Dress, RSC) and Squeak will be portrayed by Jimand Allotey, who makes her professional stage debut in the production.

The tour sees several cast members from Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s original award-winning production return, including Ako Mitchell as Mister, Anelisa Lamola as Sofia, KM Drew Boateng as Pa, Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah as Darlene and Karen Mavundukure as Doris and Alternate Celie.

The cast also includes Kyle BirchKayla CarterJoshua ClemetsonEsme LaudatDeeArna McLeanMonifa JamesNathaniel MorrisonAlex Okoampa and Neil Patterson.

Speaking about the announcement, Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster told us…..

“We are delighted to announce our exceptional The Color Purple company, assembled by the brilliant Tinuke Craig. The Color Purple is very close to our hearts, and we cannot wait to welcome back familiar faces and new colleagues to take this award-winning Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome production on tour. We know this extraordinary team will create something truly special for audiences across England and Wales this Autumn.  

“Our thanks once again to our friends at Theatrical Rights Worldwide and Arts Council England, whose support has made the tour of this production possible.” 

Chris Sudworth, Director of Artistic Programme at Birmingham Hippodrome added…..

“We are delighted that our very special co-production of The Color Purple will open the musical’s first ever UK tour on the Hippodrome’s main stage, after such a fantastic response from our audiences in 2019. We are committed to making high quality work in the Midlands and delighted the show will be seen so widely thanks to the support of our partner venues and Arts Council England. We can’t wait to welcome this wonderful company to the Hippodrome for rehearsals next week.”

Originally staged in 2019, where the picture below are taken, Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s production of The Color Purple received an incredible response from critics and audiences alike, winning the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Regional Production. During lockdown in Spring 2021, Curve – in association with Birmingham Hippodrome – reunited the company to share a special digital production of the show which was streamed by over 20,000 people in the UK and Ireland.

The Color Purple will once again be directed by Tinuke Craig, with Lakesha Arie-Angelo as Revival Director. Also resuming their roles on the production team are Musical Supervisor Alex Parker, Orchestrator Martin Higgins, Choreographer Mark Smith, Designer Alex Lowde and Video Designer Joshua Pharo, Sound Designer Tom Marshall and Casting Director Kay Magson CDG, with Ian Oakley as Musical Director, Ricardo Pardo as Associate Designer and Gail Parmel and Iona Waite as Associate Choreographers also joining.

With a profoundly evocative score by Grammy award-winners Brenda RussellAllee Willis and Stephen Bray and drawing inspiration from jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, this landmark musical celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.

For those musical anoraks amongst us – that’s me by the way, Brenda Russell had a massive hit in 1988 with what is till one of my favourite songs – PIANO IN THE DARK. It’s had just shy of 25 million HYouTube views, so clearly is a favourite of many.

We’d usually directed you to a show trailer at this point but for now, here’s a video compilation which Curve At Home released last year to keep us all entertained during the pandemic HERE.

THE COLOR PURPLE gets to the Wales Millennium Centre next week, from Tuesday 18th to Saturday 22nd October. Performances are at 7:30pm with a 2:30pm matinee on Thursday and Saturday. With tickets starting at £15.50, this is one not to miss. For more details go HERE.

Just be aware there is an age guidance of 14+ as the production contains themes of rape, abuse and incest, with overt racism and sexism.