Alice Walker published The Color Purple in 1982, and the novel won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983. The story begins in 1909 in rural Georgia and follows the traumatic life of Celie, a fourteen-year-old black girl who is forced to marry an older man after suffering years of abuse by her father. Celie’s life unfolds for the reader as she continues to suffer hardships, alongside several other powerful black female voices. Eventually Celie triumphs, finding a place for herself where she can just be.
Just three short years after the book was published, the movie adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg was released. The movie launched the careers of Whoopi Goldberg, who plays Celie, and Oprah Winfrey, who plays Sofia. The film was a success, ranking 4th that year in overall sales and earning eleven Oscar nominations.
In November 2005, Broadway released a musical adaptation of the novel, written by Marsha Norman with music and lyrics by Allee Willis, Brenda Russell, and Stephen Bray. The show ran through February of 2008. Click here for full cast and crew. Ten years later, the musical was revived on Broadway with new cast members. Click here for full cast and crew.
A new film adaptation of The Color Purple is hitting theaters on Christmas day, 2023. The film is a musical based on Marsha Norman’s Broadway book from 2005 and will be much different than the 1985 film adaptation. The musical focuses more on the relationship between Celie and Shug, played by Fantasia and Taraji P. Henson respectively. Though different than the 1985 film, the musical version still follows Walker’s book, with some saying the musical is a truer adaptation than the 1985 film. I suppose we will have to see for ourselves when the movie releases. For full cast and crew, click here.
The RiverShare Library system has several copies of the classic, if you would like to read the book before watching the musical. You can also checkout the 1985 movie as well.
If you are lover of musicals, check out these titles from The Library’s collection.