Everyone Starring in the Musical Adaptation of ‘The Color Purple’

The Color Purple is getting yet another revival. A new movie is in the works and has some major talent attached to it, some of whom are repairing their roles from the Broadway adaptation. The film also has some of the same backings as the original made nearly 40 years ago. 

Whoopi Goldberg sitting at the table on the set of 'The View'
Whoopi Goldberg | ABC/Jenny Anderson

The new project has several major singers and actors featured

Blitz Bazawule is directing a reimagining of the classic film. The 1985 drama is a historical piece based on the Alice Walker novel of the same title. Themes of the suffering of Black women in the south take center stage in the project. Bazawule co-directed Black Is King, the Beyoncé produced visual that accompanies the 2019 remake of The Lion King. The Burial of Kojo, his feature debut, is currently on Netflix. 

The current cast of The Color Purple includes: Danielle Brooks as Sofia, with Brooks resuming the role that she played in her 2015 Broadway run of the show; Taraji P. Henson as the sexy nightclub singer Shug Avery; Fantasia as the lead role of Celie, also resuming her role from her time in the 2015 Broadway version; Halle Bailey as Nettie, Celie’s long lost sister; Corey Hawkins as Harpo, Celie’s abusive and older husband; Cole Domingo as Mister; and H.E.R. as Squeak, making it the singer’s first film role. 

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Several of the cast members, including Brooks and Fantasia, shared their live reactions to being cast in the film to their social media accounts. Production is set to begin on the film in March 2022 in Georgia. Oprah Winfrey serves as an executive producer. The former talk show diva promises this remake is nothing like the original, with Vanity Fair reporting Oprah saying, “This ain’t your mama’s Color Purple

The novel has had such a significant impact on Oprah’s life that reattaching herself to the new film was a no-brainer. “It has been a vehicle for magic and purpose in my life,” she said. “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, 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.”

A film and musical based on the book preceded the new adaptation

The original version of the film was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Whoopi Goldberg as Celie, Oprah as Sofia, and Danny Glover as Mister. It was a box office success, earning $142 million against a budget of just $15 million. Critics also loved the film, most notably Goldberg and Oprah’s performances. 

“Miss Goldberg is limited at first, forced to shrug and cower in a manner that seems highly improbable in someone so evidently savvy,” a New York Times review notes. “But she eventually grows into a tremendously compelling figure, with a huge, radiant smile that’s even more powerful as her formidable scowl. Oprah Winfrey, as Celie’s stepdaughter-in-law Sofia, has the most exaggeratedly comic role in the film, but she handles it gracefully.”

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Due to some of the subject matter, some major organizations, including some chapters of the NAACP spoke out against it under claims of being overly dramatized and stereotypical of the Black struggle. Still, the movie is considered a classic.

The film was adapted into a musical in 2005. Some of the star-studded revivals of the show took place in locations including Chicago and London. The musical has earned several awards in its run, including a Tony, Grammy, and Emmy.

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