The PBS series Great Performances will broadcast the recent Broadway revival of Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, which completed its run at the Music Box Theatre February 4. The PBS airing is set for May 24 at 9 PM (check local listings), but the film will be available to stream via PBS.org and the PBS app as well.
News of the production's filming was one of the worse-kept secrets on Broadway in recent memory—turns out, it's difficult to keep things under wraps when an audience of 1,025 is in the house. The February 12 news is the first official confirmation.
The broadcast will be part of Great Performance's Broadway's Best series, which includes the previously announced Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet starring Ato Blankson-Wood, Audra McDonald's 2022 London Palladium concert, and 2023's My Favorite Things: The Rodgers & Hammerstein 80th Anniversary Concert, also from London.
The PBS filming of Purlie Victorious is a production of The WNET Group, and is produced by Leslie Odom, Jr., Mitch Owgang, and Stephanie Dawson. Great Performances executive producer David Horn is directing for television. Bill O'Donnell is Great Performances' series producer.
The film captures the revival's full original cast, including Odom, Jr. as Purlie, Kara Young as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Heather Alicia Simms as Missy Judson, Billy Eugene Jones as Gitlow Judson, Noah Robbins as Charlie Cotchipee, Vanessa Bell Calloway as Idella Landy, Jay O. Sanders as Ol' Cap'n Cotchipee, Bill Timoney as The Sheriff, and Noah Pyzik as The Deputy.
Directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon, the production officially opened September 27, 2023, and closed February 4, following 23 previews and 151 regular performances.
The work follows a traveling 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, singing the Gary Geld-Peter Udell score's most enduring hit, "I Got Love."
The production features scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Adam Honoré, sound design by Peter Fitzgerald, hair and wig and makeup design by J. Jared Janas, and original music by Guy Davis.