The cast of the Color Purple musical just added six more and got even more star-studded.
Louis Gossett, Jr., David Alan Grier, Tamela J. Mann, Deon Cole , Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, and Stephen Hill have been cast in the udpated musical film. They join previously cast Danielle Brooks and Fantasia Barrino who have joined to reprise their roles as Sofia and Celie. Colman Domingo, Halle Bailey, Taraji P Henson, H.E.R., and Corey Hawkins, were also previously cast.
Blitz Bazawule will helm The Color Purple adaptation.
The updated feature adaptation will be based 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. She also earned a Supporting Actress Oscar nom for her role.
The Color Purple musical includes jazz, ragtime, and gospel. It also included blues and African rhythms. Marsha Norman wrote that book with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.
Marcus Gardley is penning the updated 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.
Louis Gossett Jr. has been cast as Ol’ Mister, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, and Tamela Mann as the First Lady. Phylicia Mpasi will join as Young Celie, Deon Cole as Alfonso, and Stephen Hill as Buster.
Both Brooks and Barrino played their respective roles in the stage musical during separate runs. Barrino performed in a 2007 production while Brooks was in the 2015 revival, winning a Tony for her performance.
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 playing Harpo and H.E.R. will make her acting debut as Squeak. In the musical, Squeak goes from a juke joint waitress to an aspiring singer. Rae Dawn Chong played the role in the original Spielberg feature.
Domingo will play the role of Mister, originated by Danny Glover in Spielberg’s film. While Halle Bailey, who is about to star as Ariel in Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid, will play Nettie, Celie’s sister, who runs away when Mister attacks her.
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. And it received 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.
When Fantasia Taylor, Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Halle Bailey, Corey Hawkins, and H.E.R. start shooting in Georgia next month, Winfrey predicts that The Color Purple musical will change their lives, as it once did hers.
“It has been a vehicle for magic and purpose in my life. I don’t know anybody who’s ever been associated with it whose life didn’t get enhanced. Everything comes from the original words of Alice Walker, which were grounded in love, really. Love of this community, love of these people, and love of those characters. And that just gets passed on and passed on and passed on. I can’t wait to see this next evolvement, which is not attached to having done it the way we’ve always done it.”
The film has a December 20, 2023 release.