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THE COLOR PURPLE names its Celie

London's breakout musical star

Cynthia Erivo to make Broadway debut

with her critically acclaimed

performance as ‘Celie’ in the

upcoiming Broadway production of


Co-starring with previously announced

Oscar and Grammy Award-Winner

Jennifer Hudson

as Shug Avery

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Producers Scott Sanders, Roy Furman, Oprah Winfrey, David Babani, Tom Siracusa are proud to announce that CYNTHIA ERIVO, the breakout star of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of THE COLOR PURPLE, will make her Broadway debut this fall when she reprises her acclaimed performance as Celie in John Doyle’s critically heralded production. THE COLOR PURPLE will begin preview performances on Monday, November 9th at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th street) and will officially open on Thursday, December 3.

Ms. Erivo will make her Broadway debut opposite the previously announced Grammy, Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award winner JENNIFER HUDSON, who is also making her Broadway debut in the role of Shug Avery. This production will mark Ms. Hudson’s first musical theatre role since winning every major film award for her indelible performance in Dreamgirls.

“What John Doyle has done with THE COLOR PURPLE is a revelation – he was able to maintain the show’s epic sweep and sense of history while also ensuring that Celie’s journey be an intimate, emotionally profound theatrical experience,” said Producer Scott Sanders. “Celie is the heart of THE COLOR PURPLE and Cynthia Erivo, an astonishingly talented young actress who will be making her Broadway debut, is thrilling in the role. She breaks the audience’s heart and heals it by the show’s finale, all while blowing the roof off the theatre with her remarkable voice. And having her joined onstage by an acclaimed actress and recording star like Jennifer Hudson – who will also be making her Broadway debut – all but guarantees some legendary musical theatre fireworks.”

CYNTHIA ERIVO is appearing with the support of Actors’ Equity Association. The Producers gratefully acknowledge Actors’ Equity Association for its assistance of this production.

Group tickets are currently available for THE COLOR PURPLE by calling 1-800-432-7780.

To view a montage from the The Menier Chocolate Factory production and an interview with Cynthia Erivo, please visit:


“CYNTHIA ERIVO is wonderful. One of the particular joys of this Color Purple is hearing Ms. Erivo’s Celie learn to sing. By the end she is perfectly capable of delivering an all-out showstopper.”

-Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“CYNTHIA ERIVO gives a career-defining performance. Erivo makes you believe you are seeing a naive girl’s acquisition of self-belief, and hits every note dead-center.”

-Michael Billington, The Guardian

“CYNTHIA ERIVO is genuinely touching as the heroine, a tiny, plain, vulnerable figure with a voice of great power and an ability to convey raw emotion with apparently spontaneous conviction.”

-Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

“CYNTHIA ERIVO is a pocket dynamo. She brings a punchy physical and vocal attack to Celie that combines toughness and vulnerability.”

-Mark Shenton, The Stage

“CYNTHIA ERIVO is so unflinchingly immediate and so searingly powerful that you find yourself gazing at her through tears and in sheer astonishment. Her performance is

nothing short of a triumph.”

-Sam Marlow,

One of the fastest-rising stars of British musical theatre, CYNTHIA ERIVO received an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination for Best Musical Performance and a WhatsOnStage Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Celie in THE COLOR PURPLE. In 2011 Cynthia received her first big musical theatre break, in Kneehigh Theatre's production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at the Gielgud Theatre, followed by the starring role of Deloris Van Cartier in the UK tour of Jerry Zaks’ production of Sister Act. Cynthia appeared in the West End as Chenice in Harry Hill and Simon Cowell’s critically acclaimed musical, I Can’t Sing, at the London Palladium and also played the leading role of Dessa in the European premiere of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical, Dessa Rose, at Trafalgar Studios.

A 2010 graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), Cynthia’s many stage credits include Simon Stephens' Marine Parade, which premiered at the 2010 Brighton Festival, John Adams' experimental “song play,” I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, at Theatre Royal Stratford East, and Dominic Hill’s The Three Musketeers and The Princess of Spain at Traverse, Belgrade and English Touring theatres.

This past fall, Cynthia returned to her classical roots in the Donmar Warehouse's acclaimed all-female production of Henry IV opposite Dame Harriet Walter, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. She will soon star as Puck in the Liverpool Everyman’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opposite Dean Nolan and Andrew Schofield, directed by Nick Bagnall. In addition to her stage career, Cynthia is a songwriter and wrote the song, "Fly Before You Fall," for last year’s feature film Beyond the Lights.


Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel and the Warner Bros. / Amblin Entertainment motion picture, THE COLOR PURPLE is adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize and Tony award winner Marsha Norman, with music and lyrics by Grammy award winners Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

THE COLOR PURPLE is an unforgettable story of enduring love and triumph over adversity. With a fresh, joyous score of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, this stirring family chronicle follows the inspirational Celie, as she journeys from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life.

John Doyle’s critically acclaimed production opened in summer 2013 in London at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Charles Spencer of The Telegraph said THE COLOR PURPLE, “BLOWS THE ROOF OFF THE THEATRE,” and Libby Purvess of The Times says, “IT ROCKS THE HOUSE. NEVER WAS THERE SUCH STAMPING, CHEERING, HOOTING, ROARING AND WHISTLING.” And Mark Shenton of The Stage called the production, “A REVELATION. SOMETHING TRULY EXTRAORDINARY.”


JOHN DOYLE received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards as Outstanding Director of a Musical for his Broadway debut, Sweeney Todd. His production of Company won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival and he won UK Best Musical Awards for The Gondolier’s (West End), Fiddler on the Roof and Moll Flanders with nominations for other productions including A Catered Affair (Broadway) and Mack and Mabel (West End). Recent credits include Irma la Douce for City Center, Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show (Public Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory), Passion and Allegro for CSC, and the acclaimed revival of Merrily We Roll Along at the Watermill Theatre. John has been the artistic director of four prestigious UK regional theaters and has directed numerous new and classic plays and operas. John will return to Broadway this spring with his production of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s The Visit, starring Chita Rivera.

MARSHA NORMAN (Book) won a Pulitzer Prize for her play ‘night, Mother and a Tony Award for her book of The Secret Garden on Broadway. She also wrote the book for the recent Broadway production of The Bridges of Madison County. Ms. Norman is co-chair of the Playwriting Department at Juilliard and vice president of the Dramatists Guild of America. Her other plays include Getting Out, Traveler in the Dark, Sarah and Abraham, Trudy Blue and Last Dance. Her published work includes Four Plays, Vol. 1: Collected Plays of Marsha Norman and a novel, The Fortune Teller. She has numerous film and TV credits, Grammy and Emmy nominations and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She is a native of Kentucky who lives in New York City and Great Barrington with her two children.

BRENDA RUSSELL (Composer/Lyricist). Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter Brenda Russell’s music has touched fans on a global scale through millions of albums sold and songs heard on airwaves around the world. Author of “Piano in the Dark,” “If Only for One Night” and the anthem “Get Here,” Brenda has written for or collaborated with superstars such as Sting, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Michael McDonald, Ray Charles, Earth Wind & Fire, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, and Patti LaBelle, among many others. Nominated for three Grammys for 1988’s pop classic “Piano in the Dark,” Brenda’s compositions have also won Grammys for other artists. She has recorded eight solo albums since 1979, with her most recent, Between the Sun and the Moon, released in 2004. Brenda’s songwriting talent has been featured on television and in films such as How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Barry Levinson’s Liberty Heights.

ALLEE WILLIS (Composer/Lyricist) has sold 50 million records, including Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and “Boogie Wonderland,” the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” and Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield’s “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” Willis won a Grammy for Best Soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop and was nominated for an Emmy for “I’ll Be There for You,” the theme from “Friends.” She’s also an award-winning artist, set designer, interactive-multimedia artist, writer and director. Her new live shows, including sold-out runs of Ba-de-ya, Baby! and Allee Willis' Super Ball Bounce Back Review, have drawn rave reviews in Los Angeles. Willis has also become a regular headliner at the legendary comedy review, UnCabaret. She returned to her hometown of Detroit for “Allee Willis Marches on Detroit,” an ongoing series of events and fundraisers dedicated to her beloved hometown, with an event in Detroit's historic Fox Theatre with students from her alma mater, Mumford High, as well as a second “Marching on Detroit” event in 2012 when Willis staged the “Last Call Before The Wrecking Ball” concert at Mumford, just a month before the school was demolished. She has also consulted for Intel, Microsoft, AOL and Disney and addressed the U.S. House of Representatives on cyberspace. As her alter-ego, Bubbles the artist, Willis has sold more than 1,000 artworks. She co-created and designed two animated series, “Fat Girl” and “Driving While Black,” which contain the only previous scores of Russell, Willis and Bray.

STEPHEN BRAY (Composer/Lyricist) made his Broadway debut with The Color Purple in 2005. After beginning music studies with private instruction in Detroit, Bray continued training at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Working with Madonna, he wrote and produced many of her top-ten recordings, including “Angel,” “Into the Groove,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “True Blue” and “Express Yourself.” Performing with Breakfast Club, he earned a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and top-ten single. He has composed and produced for multiplatinum artists including The Jets, Gladys Knight and Kylie Minogue. Film and television projects include Beverly Hills Cop II, Who’s That Girl?, All About the Benjamins and the theme for PBS’s “California Connected.” Stephen develops artists for his Soultone label and looks forward to more musical theatre.

ALICE WALKER (Original Author) won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her third novel, The Color Purple, which was made into an internationally popular film by Steven Spielberg. Her other best-selling novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages, include By the Light of My Father’s Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy and The Temple of My Familiar. Her most recent novel, Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart, was published in 2004. Ms. Walker is also the author of several collections of short stories, essays and poems as well as children’s books. Her work has appeared in numerous national and international journals and magazines. An activist and social visionary, Ms. Walker has been a participant in most of the major movements of planetary change, among them the Human and Civil Rights Movement in the South, the Hands Off Cuba Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Native American and Indigenous Rights Movement, the Free South Africa Movement, the Environmental and Animal Rights Movement and the Peace Movement. Her advocacy on behalf of the dispossessed has, in the words of her biographer, Evelyn C. White, “spanned the globe.”

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