From Chicago to Dreamgirls, splashy and glittering big-screen adaptations of Broadway movie musicals have been ‘catnip’ (sorry Cats) for Hollywood’s award season. They also served to mint Hollywood royalty like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Hudson with Academy Awards, elevating their cache in Hollywood. With the adaptation of The Color Purple just being announced as the latest Broadway musical to be adapted to the big-screen, conversations are already heating up as to what big voiced ingenues might be taking on key roles like Celie & Shug Avery.
Broadway.com reports that The Color Purple is being adapted from both the Tony-winning musical and the 1985 film. Blitz Bazawule will direct the upcoming version, which will be produced by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. The film (which has yet to be cast) tells the story of Celie, a Black woman living in the South in the early 20th century who learns her self-worth through the help of two friends. Spielberg directed the original film adaptation of “The Color Purple” in the ’80s, which starred Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg and Winfrey. The film was adapted from Alice Walker’s 1982 novel, was was then turned into a Broadway musical in 2005.
The highly acclaimed production received the 2016 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Additionally, Cynthia Erivo snagged the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. The musical also received Tony nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Danielle Brooks). During the run of the production, Fantasia portrayed the role of Celie (in both the original production and the national tour) making her the first American Idol winner to ever grace the Broadway stage. Heather Headley, Jennifer Holiday, and Michelle Williams also each took a turn at portraying Shug Avery during the Broadway run of the show.
Jennifer Hudson’s role in Dreamgirls as Effie White took the American Idol runner up to Academy Award winner and Hollywood darling. With a starring role in a splashy big screen production of The Color Purple, this could be the breakout role that a proven Broadway super talent like Fantasia or Heather Headley has been waiting for.
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