Taraji P. Henson has joined H.E.R. and Corey Hawkins in Warner Bros.’s feature adaptation of the Broadway musical The Color Purple. Blitz Bazawule to helm The Color Purple adaptation.
Marcus Gardley is penning the story that follows the lives of African-American women — namely Celie and Nettie Harris, Shug Avery and Miss Millie — in the American South in the 1930s. It depicts African American families and relationships in early twentieth-century Georgia.
Henson will play Shug Avery, a jazz and blues singer played in Spielberg’s adaptation by Margaret Avery, and by icons including Jennifer Hudson in various adaptations for the stage.
Hawkins is cast as Harpo and H.E.R. will make her acting debut as Squeak, who, in the musical, goes from a juke joint waitress to an aspiring singer. (Rae Dawn Chong played the role in the original Spielberg feature.)
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The updated feature adaptation is on the Tony-winning Broadway musical, which is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel by Alice Walker. Steven Spielberg directed and produced the 1985-adaptation in which Oprah Winfrey, made her feature debut in the original movie and earned a Supporting Actress Oscar nom.
The musical, includes jazz, ragtime, gospel, blues, and African rhythms. Marsha Norman wrote that book with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.
Winfrey, Spielberg, and Quincy Jones, who produced the film, will all produce the upcoming Color Purple musical film. Scott Sanders will also produce the film.
EPs are Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini and Mara Jacobs.
The original Broadway musical debuted in 2005, scoring 11 Tony Award nominations in 2006 and winning for LaChanze’s role as Celie. It ran for 910 performances. A revival in 2015 scored four more Tony noms and won for Best Revival of a Musical and for Cynthia Erivo in her Broadway debut. The musical has also won Grammy and Emmy awards.
The movie is in pre-production with casting beginning to come together and chemistry reads happening now. Sources close to the production note that casting and creative decisions are being made to bring the story and its themes to a new generation of viewers.
The film is set for release on December 20, 2023.