The source material was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. Its first adaptation was an Oscar-nominated 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg. The pedigree was undeniable—but would it work as a stage musical?
Eleven 2006 Tony Award nominations later, as the touring production of The Color Purple comes to town, the answer appears to be “Yes.”
Producer Scott Sanders—with the help of an “Oprah Winfrey Presents” imprimatur—saw an eight-year journey to bring The Color Purple to the stage result in critical and audience success. It still tells the decades-spanning story of Celie, a girl in rural Georgia in the early 1900s who battles against oppression, not just at the hands of Southern whites but also the men in her life. Composers Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray contributed the 24 songs that emphasize not the horrors that Celie and her peers experience, but the joyous triumph of love and friendship.