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Heather Headley debuts in The Color Purple tonight

Tom Millward
Tom Millward

Tony and Grammy winner Heather Headley debuts as Shug Avery tonight in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. She assumes the role from Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson, who played her final performance of her Broadway debut on 8 May 2016

Heather Headley previously commented:

"I was privileged to see John Doyle's production of The Color Purple and was completely moved and bowled over by his beautiful work and this brilliant company. I am humbled to be joining this immensely talented group of actors. I can't think of a better way to return to the Broadway stage than in this extraordinary show, helping to tell Alice Walker's story."
The cast for the revival currently includes Cynthia Erivo (Celie), Heather Headley (Shug Avery), Danielle Brooks (Sofia), Kyle Scatliffe (Harpo), Isaiah Johnson (Mister), and Joaquina Kalukango (Nettie), with Phoenix Best, Dwayne Clark, Lawrence Clayton, Carrie Compere, Patrice Covington, Adrianna Hicks, Bre Jackson, Grasan Kingsberry, Kevyn Morrow, Ken Robinson, Antoine L. Smith, Carla R. Stewart, Akron Watson and Rema Webb.

The Color Purple began previews on 10 November 2015, and officially opened on 10 December 2015, and is currently booking through to 2 October 2016.

The production, which premiered at London's Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013, is directed by Tony winner John Doyle, and features music by Brenda Russell and Allee Willis, lyrics by Russell, Willias and Stephen Bray and a book by Marsha Norman.

Based on the novel by Alice Walker, the musical tells "the story of Celie, a woman who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discovers her voice in the world."

The Color Purple features scenic design by John Doyle, costume design by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting design by Jane Cox, sound design by Gregory Clarke, hair & wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, music supervision by Catherine Jayes and music direction by Jason Michael Webb.

The Color Purple is produced on Broadway by Scott Sanders, Roy Furman, and Oprah Winfrey, with David Babani and Tom Siracusa for Chocolate Factory Productions.

John Doyle's 'stripped-down' production opened at London's Menier Chocolate Factory on 15 July 2013, cutting approximately 30 minutes of material from the original production, which played at the Broadway Theatre from 1 November 2005 until 24 February 2008. The Broadway production was directed by Gary Griffin and starred Brandon Victor Dixon, Renee Elise Goldsberry and LaChanze, who won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Celie.

Heather Headley won a Tony Award in 2000 for her performance in the title role of 'Aida.' She also originated the role of Nala in Disney's 'The Lion King' on Broadway and the role of Rachel Marron in the West End premiere of 'The Bodyguard,' earning an Olivier Award nomination for the latter. She starred off-Broadway in the Encores! production of 'Do Re Mi.' As a recording artist, she has released four studio albums, winning a Grammy Award in 2010, and a further three Grammy nominations along the way.

- by Tom Millward

Heather Headley

Originally published on