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Jennifer Hudson to Star in Broadway’s ‘Color Purple,’ but Won’t Play Celie

Jennifer Hudson Color Purple Broadway
FilmMagic

Jennifer Hudson will make her Broadway debut in a revival of “The Color Purple” this fall — but instead of playing protagonist Celie, she’ll portray nightclub singer Shug Avery.

Oprah Winfrey, who produced the musical in its initial outing, returns for the revival alongside fellow original producers Scott Sanders and Roy Furman.

“Color Purple,” which earned mixed notices when it bowed in 2005, has been eying a Broadway return since it got a jolt of critical respect from a much-lauded London revival at the Menier Chocolate Factory. John Doyle, who directed the scaled-down version at the Menier, will also helm the Broadway revival, while David Babani and Tom Siracusa of Chocolate Factory Prods. will co-produce.

Shug, the part Hudson will play, is a nightclub singer who’s the mistress of Celie’s husband and who eventually becomes Celie’s lover. Margaret Avery played the role in Stephen Spielberg’s 1985 movie adaptation of the Alice Walker novel.

Hudson’s Broadway engagement looks, at least at first blush, like a commercial slam-dunk given that the original production of “Color Purple” found some of its greatest sales strength when Fantasia Barrino, another well-known “American Idol” alum, stepped into the show. As an Oscar winner for “Dreamgirls,” Hudson has an even higher profile than Barrino.

Theater avids saw Hudson on the Tony telecast last spring, performing a song from “Finding Neverland.” She also appeared in NBC’s Broadway-centric series “Smash.”

The new staging of “The Color Purple” will open this fall, with dates and exact theater still to be set.