From Broadway to the big screen! The Color Purple musical is the next Broadway show to earn a film adaptation.
The musical production takes inspiration from the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the 1985 feature film of the same name. The award-winning drama, which made its Broadway debut in 2005, earned eleven Tony nominations in June 2006 and ran until February 2008. In 2015, the show reopened with a new cast and won two Tony Awards — including Best Revival of a Musical.
Steven Spielberg, who directed the first film, is set to lead the latest adaptation. Quincy Jones and Scott Sanders will also produce, with Sanders returning to the role after producing the Broadway spectacle in 2005. Also signed on to direct the project is Blitz Bazawule, who was behind the camera for Beyoncé’s Black Is King.
The cast of the upcoming movie musical includes a star-studded lineup filled with award-winning actors, performers and singers like Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo, Halle Bailey, Aunjanue Ellis and Ciara. Grammy award-winning R&B singer, H.E.R., will also make her acting debut in the film. Jon Batiste, who took home five 2022 Grammy Awards for his album We Are in April 2022, joined the project shortly after. The film has also enlisted Corey Hawkins, who made a name for himself in the musical theater world thanks to his performance in the recent In The Heights film adaptation.
Two Color Purple Broadway alums, Danielle Brooks and Fantasia Taylor (née Barrino) are set to reprise their roles as Sophia and Celie, respectively. “My heart is so full,” Brooks tearfully said as she received news of her casting in February 2022. Taylor, for her part, opened up at the time about the power of representation.
“The color of my skin … my lips were always bigger, the biggest thing on my body,” she explained, explaining how she related to Celie. “I remember being on [American] Idol, and we had to come up with this little thing, and I said, ‘My lips are big, but my talent is bigger.’ I had started accepting who I was at that age, but when I was younger, it was things that I dealt with — just feeling beautiful, wanting a certain kind of love, so we relate in a lot of ways.”
The story of The Color Purple follows Celie as she navigates life in the South during the early 20th century. In the book, Celie writes letters to God detailing the traumatic events of her past from an abusive stepfather and husband. Sanders revealed to Vanity Fair in February 2022 that the theatrical feature will use magical realism during songs to show the audience what Celie is thinking.
“Incorporating magical realism in this version of the story gives the audience a chance to go inside of Celie’s imagination,” Sanders revealed. “In the early stages of Celie’s story, she is meek and small and in many ways passive. So we don’t really understand what’s going on inside that head of hers. We know there’s a lot going on, but we don’t know necessarily what it is.”
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