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T’Shan Williams Cast As ‘Celie’ in Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s Production Of ‘The Color Purple’ & First Look Imagery

The first images of Leicester’s Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s production of Tony Award-winning Broadway production The Color Purplehave been released, with T’Shan Williams set to take the role of Celie.

The regional UK premiere will play at Curve, Leicester from 28th June – 13th July, followed by 16th – 20th July at Birmingham Hippodrome, with a national press night at Curve on Wednesday 3rd July at 7pm.

T’Shan Williams joins the cast as heroine Celie. T’Shan’s previous credits include Heather Duke in Heathers The Musical (Theatre Royal, Haymarket & The Other Palace); Caroline, or Change (Hampstead Theatre) and Queen in The Life (Southwark Playhouse) for which she won the Off-West End award for Best Female in a Musical.

She joins the previously announced cast including Joanna Francis as Shug Avery, Ako Mitchell as Mister, Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Mister’s son Harpo, Karen Mavundukure as his wife Sophia, Danielle Fiamanya as Celie’s sister Nettie and Delroy Brown as Pa.

The cast is completed by Geoff AymerOwen ChapondaPerola Congo, KM Drew Boateng, Danielle KassaratéAnelisa LamolaRosemary Annabella NkrumahJochebel Ohene MacCarthyLandi Oshinowo and Jo Servi.

Directed by Tinuke CraigThe Color Purple is filled with a soul-raising musical score of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues. The landmark musical, from Alice Walker’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel, classic hit film and Tony Award-winning production on Broadway, follows heroine Celie as she discovers her own identity and power over the course of 40 years in 19th century southern America. 

Creative Team

Director Tinuke Craig
Set & Costume Designer Alex Lowde
Musical Supervisor and Musical Director Alex Parker
Orchestrator Martin Higgins
Choreographer Mark Smith
Lighting Designer Joshua Pharo
Sound Designer Tom Marshall
Hair & Make-up Designer Cynthia De La Rosa
Casting Director Kay Magson CDG
Co-producers Birmingham Hippodrome

Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome statement regarding ‘The Color Purple’

The Color Purple

STATEMENT

On Friday 15 March a social media post dating from 2014, which was written by the The Color Purple cast member Seyi Omooba, was re-posted on Twitter. The comments made by Seyi in that post have caused significant and widely expressed concerns both on social media and in the wider press.

Following careful reflection it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production. This decision was supported by the Authors and Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

The audition process, as ever, was conducted professionally and rigorously, led by an exceptional casting director with actors who are evaluated on what they present in the audition room. We do not operate a social media screening process in the casting of actors.

No further comment will be made at this time.

Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster on behalf of Curve and Fiona Allan on behalf of Birmingham Hippodrome

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Where next for The Color Purple?

The Color Purple
The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Brexit has been delayed, the far-right is on the rise & global warming continues.

But fear not. An actress with extreme views on LGBTQ+ folk has just been cast as a lesbian in The Color Purple. Repeat. An actress with extreme views on LGBTQ+ folk has just been cast as a lesbian in The Color Purple.

At the time of writing this, Oluwaseyi Omooba will be leading the cast in the role of Celie in the upcoming Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome production.

Her theatre credits include Hadestown (National Theatre); Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors (Regent’s Park); Martha in Spring Awakening (Hope Mill Theatre) and Tilly in Junkyard (Bristol Old Vic and UK Tour).

Omooba has faced allegations of  fanatic, offensive views in recent days after an old Facebook status emerged online – that read: “I do not believe homosexuality is right” the social media post in question was posted in 2015.

But how Omooba herself, and the co-producers of Oprah Winfrey’s Broadway musical reconcile their thoughts on the evils of homosexuality with the lead playing a lesbian is a whole new level of crazy.

Because, for all the talk of inclusivity, it is quite obvious, that this is pretty low-grade stuff. The arts should lead the way with tolerance and respect. These kind of views are not welcome in my sector.

It’s a bridge too far.

This kind of scandal has become ubiquitous in the recent years: an offensive social media post is uncovered & it normally ends with a public apology, and often a firing.

As a result, Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippordrome responded rapidly to the post, which is currently spreading through theatre Twitter like wildfire.

“The views expressed in the historic social media post by a member of Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s The Color Purple cast in no way reflect those held by either of our theatres,” was the message rolled out on both Curve & Hippodrome’s social media handles. It continues, “We will be looking into the matter and will issue a full response in due course.”

Fair enough, but let us hope that Omooba does the right thing: apologises pronto and exits the production. It’s hard then to think of anyone less suited to a role in this musical or, in fact, any musical.

Where next for The Color Purple?

Omooba has remained silent on the topic, which is probably best. Because the more you delve into this one the more alarming it becomes.

Earlier this week, her father Ade Omooba a pastor who co-founded Christian Concern – was awarded an MBE for his work in voluntary service.

Hang on… WHAT?

Indeed, Christian Concern are a group that advocates for gay conversion therapy; the practice also known as “ex-gay therapy” or reparative therapy promotes the insane idea that being gay is something that should, and can, be “cured”.

Jesus wept.

The Colour Purple is a musical that ‘celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.’

I am glad that Curve and The Hippodrome are taking it seriously and perhaps reconsidering the wisdom of this casting.

Then we will see how much they really believe in what they’re selling.

Casting Announced For The Color Purple – Curve (Leicester) and Birmingham Hippodrome Co-Production

The Color Purple
The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Leicester’s Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome today announced the full casting for their co-production of Oprah Winfrey’s hit Broadway musical, The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. The production, the first to be created outside of London in the UK, will play at Curve, Leicester from 28th June – 13th July, followed by 16th – 20th July at Birmingham Hippodrome, with a national press night at Curve on Wednesday 3rd July at 7pm.

 Leading the cast is Seyi Omooba in the role of heroine Celie. Her theatre credits include Hadestown (National Theatre); Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors (Regent’s Park); Martha in Spring Awakening(Hope Mill Theatre) and Tilly in Junkyard (Bristol Old Vic and UK Tour). She also played the role of Nettie in the Cadogan Hall production of The Color Purple.

Joining Seyi is Joanna Francis who plays jazz singer and preacher’s daughter, Shug Avery. Most recently Joanna played the role of Lois in Dusty (UK Tour). Joanna returns to Curve following alternating the role of Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act in 2016. Her other credits include Elsa in The Harder They Come (Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Barbican Theatre/Birmingham Hippodrome) and alternate Dionne in Hair (The Vaults).

Following his recent roles of The Dryer and The Bus in the critically acclaimed Caroline or Change (Chichester, Hampstead and West End), Ako Mitchell joins The Color Purple as Celie’s abusive husband, Mister. His other theatre credits include Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys And Dolls (Manchester Royal Exchange), Eddie Mackrel in The Wild Party (The Other Place Theatre), Brooks in Grey Gardens(Southwark Playhouse), How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Royal Festival Hall), Mitch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Donmar Warehouse), Eddie in Sister Act (London Palladium) and Mufasa in The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre).

They are joined by Simon-Anthony Rhoden (Lola in Kinky Boots – Adelphi Theatre), who plays Mister’s son, Harpo and Karen Mavundukure, who plays his wife, Sofia (Effie White in Dream Girls – Savoy Theatre).

Celie’s sister, Nettie, is played by recent graduate Danielle Fiamanya, and her father (Pa) is played by Delroy Brown (Marty Madison in Dream Girls – Savoy Theatre).

The cast is completed by Geoff AymerOwen ChapondaPerola Congo, KM Drew Boateng, Danielle KassaratéAnelisa LamolaRosemary Annabella NkrumahJochebel Ohene MacCarthyLandi Oshinowo and Jo Servi.

The show will be directed by Tinuke Craig, winner of the 2014 Genesis Future Directors Award. Tinuke’s recent credits include random/generations, a double bill of plays by Debbie Tucker Green at Chichester Festival Theatre and I Call my Brothers by Jonas Hassen Khemiri at the Gate Theatre.

The Color Purple is an unforgettable story told over the course of 40 years, which follows courageous heroine Celie, as she journeys through joy, despair, anguish and hope in her own personal awakening to discover her unique voice in the world.

With a profoundly evocative score drawing inspiration from jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, this moving family chronicle set in racially divided southern America, celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.

Speaking about the announcement, Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

“Curve’s casting director Kay Magson and director Tinuke Craig have assembled an exceptional group of actors to create this Made at Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome co-production of the stunning musical The Color Purple. We are looking forward to welcoming them all to Leicester very much and know they will create something true, mind-blowing and beautiful.

 “Seyi Omooba is an actress of immense power and she leads a formidable ensemble of astonishing talent; they are set to blow the roof off Leicester.”

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome said:

“We’re very proud to be working on this co-production with our friends at Curve Leicester, and hope it’s the start of many more collaborations.  I know that our audiences here in the West Midlands will find the powerful story and characters both socially and culturally relevant; and what an incredible cast and creative team has been assembled to tell it.  I can’t think of a better way to mark the Hippodrome’s 120thbirthday than with our first main stage co-production.”

 Creative Team

Director Tinuke Craig

Set & Costume Designer Alex Lowde

Musical Supervisor Alex Parker

Orchestrator Martin Higgins

Choreographer Mark Smith

Lighting Designer Joshua Pharo

Sound Designer Tom Marshall

Hair & Make-up Designer Cynthia De La Rosa

Casting Director Kay Magson CDG

Co-producers Birmingham Hippodrome

 Tickets for The Color Purple are on sale. Further details can be found online on www.curveonline.co.uk or www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

The Color Purple – New Co-Production for Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome in 2019

The Color Purple
The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Leicester’s Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome theatres join forces to co-produce Broadway musical The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker.

The production, the first to be created outside of London in the UK, will be directed by Tinuke Craig, winner of the 2014 Genesis Future Directors Award. Tinuke’s recent credits include random/generations, a double bill of plays by debbie tucker green at Chichester Festival Theatre and I Call my Brothers by Jonas Hassen Khemiri at the Gate Theatre.

The announcement comes as both theatres celebrate significant milestones, with Curve turning 10 this year while the Hippodrome will mark its 120th birthday in 2019.

Speaking about the co-production, Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

The Color Purple celebrates remarkable women, telling incredible stories. From its Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, her courageous creation in heroine Celie to Oprah Winfrey – who had the vision to make the story into a smash-hit Broadway musical. And we are thrilled to introduce our equally astonishing director Tinuke Craig and welcome her to Curve.

“As we embark on our second decade as a theatre here in Leicester and our friends at Birmingham Hippodrome celebrate their 120th year, our co-production of this beautiful, moving musical feels like a fitting way for us to mark these celebratory years.

“All of us at Curve are looking forward to working with Tinuke, Fiona Allan and the Hippodrome team very much.”

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Birmingham Hippodrome said:

“This is the very first time that Birmingham Hippodrome has actively co-produced a main stage musical, and we could not have better partners than Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster at Curve theatre, and director Tinuke Craig.

“The Color Purple is an epic and timeless story that will appeal to audiences young and old, as evidenced by the recent Tony Award winning Broadway production. It is long overdue for a UK tour, and I’m proud that the Hippodrome play our part in bringing it to life here in Birmingham.”

This unforgettable story told over the course of 40 years follows courageous heroine Celie, as she journeys through joy, despair, anguish and hope in her own personal awakening to discover her unique voice in the world.

With a profoundly evocative score drawing inspiration from jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, this moving family chronicle set in racially divided southern America, celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.

Tickets for The Color Purple will go on sale to Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome audiences on the week commencing 20 Aug. Further details can be found online on www.curveonline.co.uk or www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

 

The UK Première of Spamilton: An American Parody goes on sale at 9am on 16 May

Spamilton
Spamilton

Spamilton

As the UK première of Spamilton: An American Parody goes on sale to the public, the Menier Chocolate Factory announce a brand new pricing policy across the season – tickets will be available for all performances of Spamilton, and The Grönholm Method from just £19.50. These tickets go on sale at 9am on 16 May, and are available to everyone to enable work at the company’s home to be accessible to all.

With The Grönholm Method currently previewing at the Menier, the critically acclaimed Travesties recently opened on Broadway and The Color Purple on tour in the US,Spamilton: An American Parody opens at the theatre on 24 July, with previews from 12 July and runs until 8 September. The production renews Gerard Alessandrini’s collaboration with the Menier following two critically acclaimed seasons of Forbidden Broadway which ran both at the theatre and in the West End. Over 1000 tickets across the run will be available at £19.50.

Hamilton – Olivier, Tony, Pulitzer and Grammy Award-winning musical. Very few tickets available.                                                                      

Spamilton: An American Parody – Hamilton and much more. With tickets available…

Gerard Alessandrini brings his singular wit to the all-conquering musical Hamilton – in the words of its creator Lin Manuel Miranda, “I laughed my brains out”. Following the success of Forbidden Broadway, Alessandrini returns to the Menier to lampoon the multi-award-winning Hamilton, with Spamilton: An American Parody, which not only takes target at Broadway’s biggest export, but a host of the theatre world’s biggest names and musicals.

Described by the New York Times as “smart, silly and convulsively funny”, Spamilton: An American Parody makes its UK debut at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where unlike the Victoria Palace, there are tickets available – at a fraction of the price.

Gerard Alessandrini is best known for creating and writing all 25 editions of Forbidden Broadway in New York, Los Angeles, London and around the world. He features in the original 1982 cast of Forbidden Broadway, and can be heard on four of the show’s twelve cast albums. He also sings on the soundtracks of the Disney classics Aladdinand Pocahontas. Television credits include writing comedy specials for Bob Hope, Angela Lansbury, and Carol Burnett. Directing credits include Maury Yeston’s musical In the Beginning, and a revue focusing on Yeston’s songs Anything Can Happen (In the Theatre). Recent musicals which he co-wrote and/or directed include Madame X (NYMF 2011) and The Nutcracker and I (a complete Tchaikovsky score with all new lyrics by Alessandrini). He is the recipient of an Obie Award, two Lucille Lortel Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Drama League, and seven Drama Desk Awards – including two for Best Lyrics, and two Special Lifetime Awards. He was also awarded an Honorary Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre.

Choreography is by Gerry McIntyre, with Arrangements by Fred Barton and Musical Direction by Simon Beck; Set Design is by Morgan Large, with Costume Design by Dustin Cross, Lighting Design by Tim Lutkin, and Sound Design by Gregory Clarke and Jon Everett.

Produced in association with John FreedsonDavid Zippel and Christine Pedi.

Listings Information                                                                                       Spamilton: An American Parody

Venue:                                Menier Chocolate Factory

Address:                             53 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1RU

Press performance:         24 July at 8pm

Dates:                                 12 July – 8 September

Times:                                Tue – Sat 8pm, matinees Sat and Sun 3.30pm

Box Office:                         020 7378 1713 (£2.50 transaction fee per booking)

Website:                        www.menierchocolatefactory.com (£1.50 transaction fee per booking)

Tickets:                               Prices vary, as below from discounted preview tickets to premier seats. With the emphasis on ‘the sooner you book, the better the price’:

                                             Prices from £19.50