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The Color Purple | Fabulous Fox Theater

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October 21-November 2 

If Oprah touches something, it typically turns to gold, so it's no surprise that the Broadway musical adaptation of The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, became a smash hit, nominated for eleven Tony Awards® including Best Musical with Oprah as its producer. The first national tour of the musical makes its St. Louis debut this month at the Fabulous Fox Theater, and the cast includes a St. Louis native, Trent Armand Kendall, as well as American Idol finalist LaToya London. I caught up with both by phone before the local premiere.

London, who plays the character of Nettie in the show, was an early front runner on season three of American Idol alongside fellow divas Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino, ultimately coming in fourth place. This is her first Broadway show and tour.

"It's been a great experience and something I'm proud to be a part of," London says."I think the story teaches people about love and how unconditional it is and how it's never too late to find yourself and to find your happiness and your peace within no matter what you're going through. Everyone can relate to one of the characters in this show."

London's character is the sister of the lead character, Celie, played by Broadway cast member Jeannette Bayardelle. Their relationship is the center of the story.

"Nettie's story is so different from her sister's. Celie was the one that was abused and kept at home to just do work. She had nothing to help her grow mentally and spiritually," says London. "Nettie was the total opposite - she went to school to learn and free her mind, and that kept her attitude positive. She brought everything she learned back home to teach her sister. It gives Celie's story hope."

St. Louis native Trent Armand Kendall, who plays the Preacher and Ol' Mister, fondly remembers the first time he set foot in the Fabulous Fox as a kid with his grandmother, to see The Wiz. Playing the theater on this tour with all of his family and friends there is a particular honor for the Southwest High School graduate. Kendall studied theater at Mizzou and has numerous Broadway, Off-Broadway and television credits.

Growing up in St. Louis, Kendall was also greatly inspired by the performances of the Black Rep. "When I found out the tour was coming to St. Louis, I knew I wanted to do something to support the Black Rep and the local theater community," he says. 

Kendall organized a benefit concert, "Love is on the Way, "featuring himself and fellow Color Purple cast members performing in an intimate setting at The Saint Louis Zoo's Living World, on Monday, October 27.

As for London, starring in The Color Purple is an experience she shares with fellow Idol alumni Fantasia Barrino (who played Celie on Broadway). "Being new to this is something we shared. We experienced this for the first time together," she says. "You just think, ‘I hope they like me.'"  | Amy Burger

 

Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple

Performances Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 & 8 p.m.; Sunday, October 26 at 2 & 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, November 2 at 2 p.m.  There is also a weekday matinee on Thursday, October 30 at 1 p.m.  Tickets available at the Fox Theatre box office, online through www.metrotix.com, MetroTix charge by phone at 314/534-1111 and all MetroTix outlets.

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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