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Leslie Odom, Jr. to star in 'Purlie Victorious' Broadway revival

The play premiered in 1961.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

He's victorious! Tony Award winner Leslie Odom, Jr. will return to Broadway to star in Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, a revival of Ossie Davis's play.

The role marks Odom's first return to Broadway since originating the role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton, which won him his Tony Award and, alongside his cast, a Grammy Award. He is also known for starring on screen in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, One Night in Miami..., and Smash.

Kenny Leon will direct Odom in the revival. He directed Topdog/Underdog and Ohio State Murders in the current Broadway season and is slated to direct Hamlet for Shakespeare in the Park this summer.

Additional creative team members include scenic designer Derek McLane, costume designer Emilio Sosa, and lighting designer Adam Honoré.

The title character of Purlie Victorious is a traveling preacher who goes to his Georgia hometown during the Jim Crow era, hoping to secure an inheritance and liberate his community, including his church and the cotton pickers working on a plantation.

The play premiered at the James Earl Jones Theatre (then the Cort Theatre) in 1961, with Davis starring as Purlie and his wife, Ruby Dee, as Lutiebelle, a woman who helps Purlie.

“Ossie Davis gave the American theater an American hero in Purlie Judson,” Odom said. “I have loved this piece and its author, Mr. Davis, for well over half my life. His writing and acting, his integrity, the commitment he and his brilliant wife made to nurturing young talent, and the example of citizenship have meant so much to me!"

Davis later co-wrote a musical adaptation, Purlie, which premiered in 1970. The 2023 revival is of the original play.

Purlie Victorious is set to start performances in late summer 2023, with exact dates, a theatre, and additional casting and creative team to be announced.

Photo credit: Leslie Odom, Jr. (Photo by Tony Duran)

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