News: casting anounced for UK tour of The Color Purple

Leicester’s Curve theatre and Birmingham Hippodrome have announced the cast of their co-production of acclaimed musical The Color Purple, which is set to tour England and Wales for the first time this autumn thanks to support from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Funding.

Leading the company as the downtrodden but full-hearted heroine Celie is Me’sha Bryan, whose previous roles have included Romantics Anonymous (Bristol Old Vic), Caroline, or Change (The Playhouse Theatre) and The Lion King (UK tour). The role of glamorous singer Shug Avery will be played by Bree Smith (The Wiz, Hope Mill Theatre), Aaliyah Zhané (The Comedy of Errors, Mercury Theatre) joins as Celie’s sister Nettie, Harpo will be played by Ahmed Hamad (The Addams Family, UK Tour and The Boy in the Dress, RSC) and Squeak will be portrayed by Jimand Allotey, who makes her professional stage debut in the production.

The tour sees several cast members from Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s original award-winning production return, including Ako Mitchell as Mister, Anelisa Lamola as Sofia, KM Drew Boateng as Pa, Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah as Darlene and Karen Mavundukure as Doris and Alternate Celie.

The cast also includes Kyle BirchKayla CarterJoshua ClemetsonEsme LaudatDeeArna McLeanMonifa JamesNathaniel MorrisonAlex Okoampa and Neil Patterson.

The Color Purple will once again be directed by Tinuke Craig, with Lakesha Arie-Angelo as Revival Director. Also resuming their roles on the production team are Musical Supervisor Alex Parker, Orchestrator Martin Higgins, Choreographer Mark Smith, Designer Alex Lowde and Video Designer Joshua Pharo, Sound Designer Tom Marshall and Casting Director Kay Magson CDG, with Ian Oakley as Musical Director, Ricardo Pardo as Associate Designer and Gail Parmel and Iona Waite as Associate Choreographers also joining.

The tour will open at Birmingham Hippodrome 13 to 17 September, the musical will then visit Theatre Royal Plymouth (27 September to 1 October), Royal & Derngate Northampton (4 to 8 October), The Lowry in Salford (11 to 15 October), Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff (18 to 22 October), Mayflower Theatre Southampton (25 to 29 October), finishing its run at Norwich Theatre Royal (1 to 5 November). Listings and ticket information can be found below.

Originally staged in 2019, Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s production of The Color Purple received an incredible response from critics and audiences alike, winning the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Regional Production. During lockdown in Spring 2021, Curve – in association with Birmingham Hippodrome – reunited the company to share a special digital production of the show which was streamed by over 20,000 people* in the UK and Ireland.

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel and adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winner Marsha NormanAllee WillisBrenda Russell and Stephen Bray, The Color Purple tells the powerful and life-affirming story of courageous heroine Celie. Abused and oppressed throughout her youth, Celie embarks on a journey through joy, despair, anguish and hope, discovering her own unique voice thanks to the incredible women in her life. From an unbreakable bond with her sister Nettie, to friendship with fiercely independent Sofia and a life-changing affair with glamorous singer Shug Avery, Celie learns to love herself.

With a profoundly evocative score by Grammy award-winners Brenda RussellAllee Willis and Stephen Bray and drawing inspiration from jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, this landmark musical celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.

Photo: Manuel Harlan

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