UPDATE, July 11: Opening night for Purlie Victorious has been set for September 27.
The first-ever Broadway revival of Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, starring Tony and Grammy winner Leslie Odom Jr. as previously announced, has set dates, found a theatre, and revealed full casting. Initially scheduled to open in late summer, the production will open at the Music Box Theatre this fall, with previews beginning September 7. Opening night is September 27. Odom announced the news on this morning's Morning Joe on MSNBC.
Joining Odom will be Vanessa Bell Calloway (Dreamgirls) as Idella Landy, Billy Eugene Jones (Fat Ham) as Gitlow Judson, Noah Pyzik as Deputy, Noah Robbins (To Kill a Mockingbird) as Charlie Cotchipee, Jay O. Sanders as Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee, Heather Alicia Simms as Missy Judson, Bill Timoney as Sheriff, and 2023 Tony Award nominee Kara Young (Cost of Living) as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins.
The work follows a travelling preacher, Purlie, who returns to his Georgia hometown to save the local church and the cotton pickers working on Ol' Cap'n Cotchiepee's plantation. Davis both wrote and starred in the 1961 original Broadway production, appearing alongside his wife, Ruby Dee. Davis and Dee would go on to reprise their performances in a 1963 film adaptation titled Gone Are the Days! A musical adaptation premiered on Broadway in 1970, making Melba Moore a star (and a Tony winner) for her performance as Lutiebelle, famously singing the Gary Geld-Peter Udell score's most enduring hit, "I Got Love." The upcoming revival of Davis' original play will be its first on the Main Stem.
"Ossie Davis gave the American theatre an American hero in Purlie Judson," says Odom in a statement. "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! I am thrilled beyond measure to be part of this revival company. Mr. Davis’s pages are full of joy and rhythm, laughter and hope. We will endeavor to live up to the demands of a challenging text and the legacy of a great American." The revival also marks Odom's first return to Broadway following his Tony-winning success starring as Aaron Burr in the original cast of Hamilton.
"The Dee-Davis family is so excited that Purlie Victorious will return to Broadway,' adds the Dee-Davis Family. "Dad’s genius with words was never more evident than in the voice of Purlie Victorious Judson, who takes a humorous look at a serious subject. His call to justice is timeless and needed now more than ever. Thanks to producers Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, and Leslie Odom, Jr., and to director Kenny Leon for bringing Reverend Purlie to his feet once again. With Leslie Odom, Jr. in the role, Purlie will rise with magnificence."