The Color Purple

Full-length
Broadway Musical
5F, 2M, Ensemble
Community & Pro Theatres

Overview

This musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (and the popular 1985 Steven Spielberg film) spotlights Celie, a downtrodden young woman whose personal awakening over the course of 40 years forms the arc of this epic story.

With a joyous score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues, THE COLOR PURPLE is a story of hope, a testament to the healing power of love, and a celebration of life. It premiered at the Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta, Georgia and opened on Broadway on November 1, 2005, where it was nominated for eleven 2006 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score. The London off-West End production moved to Broadway in 2015, winning the Tony Award® for Best Revival of a Musical.

Casting & Production

Casting

2 male and 5 female featured roles

Opportunities for featured casting in the ensemble

CELIE (African-American, 20s-early 30s): Drives the story. Vulnerable, spirited, introverted, mischievous, seemingly passive but really not, has a deep, hard soul, believes that she is ugly, has a sense of humor which is sometimes wicked. She is an observer. Needs a great belt singing voice with lots of soul.

SHUG (African-American, 30s-40s): A popular singer, we meet her at death’s door. Attractive, confident, dynamic, powerful, irresistible, but has a frailty, like a wounded animal. Her vulnerability is shocking later on. She is loved by both Celie and Mister. Needs a knockout, Bessie Smith-style, bluesy singing voice.

MISTER (African-American, 30s-40s. Also known as ALBERT): Like Celie, a deep well. Handsome, big, masculine, strong presence, dominating, capable of brutal behavior but also a victim in his own way. Gets his power for free. Married to Celie, he abuses her. He is in love with Shug. He transforms to a kind man by the end of the story. Needs a great singing voice.

SOFIA (African-American, 30s): Powerful warrior woman. Physically bigger but beautiful. Comfortable being large, great sense of humor, touching, vulnerable. Married to Harpo, she does not let anyone mistreat her. Needs comic chops. Needs a great belt singing voice.

HARPO (African-American, 20s): Mister’s vulnerable, confused, good-hearted son. Represents the new generation. He marries the independent Sofia. He spends much time trying to get Sofia to obey him the way Celie obeys his father, but he is unsuccessful, as Sofia is considerably stronger than he is. Harpo eventually establishes a jukejoint in his first house and becomes Squeak’s lover. Later, he and Sofia reconcile. Through his love of Sofia, he learns how to love a woman. Needs a great tenor singing voice.

NETTIE (African-American, 20s): Celie’s younger sister. Attractive, adventuresome, feisty spirit, maternal, more educated and knowledgeable than Celie. She has a powerful bond with Celie. Forced by Mister to leave Celie, she starts a new life in Africa. Needs a great belt singing voice with African influence.

SQUEAK ( African-American, 20s): Harpo’s lover after Sofia leaves him. Although she is mistreated, she eventually undergoes a transformation, demanding to be called by her actual name, Mary Agnes, and starting a new life. She is of mixed ancestry. Attractive, sassy, fiery, strong-willed, unafraid to take anybody on, has a caring heart. Needs comic chops. Needs a great singing voice with belt and soprano capability.

ADULT SINGERS: Males and females, 20s – 50s, African-American. All types and singing ranges. Need fantastic singing voices and dynamic personalities. To play various roles in the ensemble The ensemble includes a trio known as Church Ladies, busybody types who are featured throughout the show.

ENSEMBLE ROLES: MISTER’S DAUGHTER, HENRIETTA – CHURCH SOLOIST/CHURCH LADY, DORIS – CHURCH LADY, DARLENE – CHURCH LADY, JARENE, DAISY, PREACHER, PRISON GUARD, PA, SQUEAK, OL’ MISTER, BUSTER, CHIEF, GRADY, BOBBY, OLIVIA, ADAM

Orchestral Information

8 Musicians

Piano-Conductor (Keyboard 1)

Keyboard 2 (Keyboard, Shaker)

Reed 1 (Alto Sax, Clarinet, Flute)

Reed 2 (Bari Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax)

Trumpet (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)

Guitar (Acoustic, Electric, Dobro, Harmonica)

Bass (Acoustic, Electric)

Drums (Drum Set, Tambourine, Triangle, Vibraphone, Cowbell, Shaker, Djembe, Rainstick, Ankle Bones, Xylophone, Mark Tree)

Credits

THE COLOR PURPLE

BASED UPON THE NOVEL WRITTEN BY ALICE WALKER AND THE WARNER BROS./AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT MOTION PICTURE

Book by MARSHA NORMAN

Music and Lyrics by BRENDA RUSSELL     ALLEE WILLIS     STEPHEN BRAY

THE COLOR PURPLE was produced on Broadway at the Broadway Theater by Oprah Winfrey, Scott Sanders, Roy Furman, and Quincy Jones. The world premiere of THE COLOR PURPLE was produced by the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia

Upcoming Productions

Jun 07Jul 21, 2024
New Village Arts
Carlsbad, CA
Jun 20Jul 29, 2024
Rock Valley College
Rockford, IL
Jul 17Aug 04, 2024
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Center Valley, PA

View All Upcoming Productions

Resources

ShowReady - TRW Musicals
Stage Tracks - TRW Musicals
Transposition Express - TRW Musicals
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