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

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.



More Legit

  • Ethan Hawke

    Listen: Ethan Hawke on 'True West' and the Ghost of Philip Seymour Hoffman

    Ethan Hawke had a long relationship with Sam Shepard and his work — but he never thought he’d end up on Broadway in “True West.” That’s because Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly had already put their stamp on the show in the 2000 Broadway revival of the play. “I kind of felt that that [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Kaye Ballard, Star of 'The Mothers-in-Law,' Dies at 93

    Singer-comedienne Kaye Ballard, who starred alongside Eve Arden in the 1960s sitcom “The Mothers-in-Law” and was among the stars of the 1976 feature based on Terrence McNally’s farce “The Ritz,” died Monday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 93. She had recently attended a screening of a documentary about her life, “Kaye Ballard: The Show [...]

  • CAROL CHANNING HERSCHFELD. Actress Carol Channing

    Remembering Carol Channing: A Master of Channeling the Power of Personality

    There was only one Carol Channing, and her outsize personality was a source of delight to many fans — and imitators. Gerard Alessandrini’s stage spoof “Forbidden Broadway” had many incarnations over the years, including the 1994 edition when an audience member was selected every evening to come onstage and impersonate Carol Channing with the cast. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Celebrities Remembering Carol Channing

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters are among the slew of celebrities taking to Twitter to pay tribute to late singer, comedienne and actress Carol Channing. Known for her starring roles in Broadway’s “Hello Dolly!” and “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” the legend of the stage and screen died Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, [...]

  • What the Constitution Means to Me

    Listen: How Things Got Scary in 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    For a decade, writer-performer Heidi Schreck had wanted to write a play inspired by her experiences as a teen debater. But over the years the show started to develop into something both urgently political and deeply personal — and things got scary. In the Broadway-bound “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Schreck reimagines her speech-and-debate [...]

  • Carol Channing Dead

    Carol Channing, Star of Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!' and 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' Dies at 97

    Larger-than-life musical stage personality Carol Channing, who immortalized the characters of Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!,” has died. She was 97. Channing died Tuesday of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Her publicist B. Harlan Boll confirmed the news. He wrote, “It is with [...]

  • 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    'What the Constitution Means to Me' Transfers to Broadway

    “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a buzzy Off-Broadway production that counts Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem among its fans, is making the move uptown. The play will come to Broadway this spring for a 12-week limited run at the Helen Hayes Theater. “What the Constitution Means to Me” is one part civics lesson, one [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content