“We still need togetherness; we still need each otherness—with faith in the futureness of our cause. Let us, therefore, stifle the rifle of conflict, shatter the scatter of discord, smuggle the struggle, tickle the pickle, and grapple the apple of peace!” – Purlie Victorious Judson
Tony & Grammy Award winner and Academy & Emmy Award nominee Leslie Odom, Jr. will star in the new Broadway production of the classic American comedy Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch by the legendary Ossie Davis. Purlie Victorious will be staged by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon who directed the critically acclaimed productions of Ohio State Murders by Adrienne Kennedy and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog earlier this season. This production, scheduled to begin in late summer 2023, will mark Odom’s return to Broadway after winning the Tony for his iconic performance as “Aaron Burr” in Hamilton.
The creative team will feature scenic design by Tony Award winner Derek McLane (Moulin Rouge, MJ), costume design by Tony Award nominee Emilio Sosa (Trouble in Mind, A Beautiful Noise) and lighting design by Adam Honoré (Ain’t No Mo’, Chicken & Biscuits).
Purlie Victorious premiered on Broadway in 1961 at the Cort Theatre (now the James Earl Jones Theatre), directed by Howard Da Silva, and starred Ossie Davis as “Purlie Victorious Judson” and his wife and frequent collaborator, Ruby Dee as “Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins.” Original cast members also included: Alan Alda, Godfrey Cambridge, Sorrell Booke and Beah Richards. For its 100th performance, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the company and celebrated the milestone with them. The play was later adapted into the musical, Purlie, which premiered on Broadway in 1970 at the Broadway Theatre.
Davis and Dee were named to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame; were awarded the National Medal of Arts and were recipients of the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors. Davis was also inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1994.
“Ossie Davis gave the American theater an American hero in Purlie Judson,” said Leslie Odom, Jr. “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 Davis family stated the following: “The Dee-Davis family is so excited that Purlie Victorious will return to Broadway. 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.”
The producing team is led by Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Irene Gandy, Jacob Soroken Porter, Kayla Greenspan and Leslie Odom, Jr., making his Broadway producing debut.
Theatre, dates, additional casting and creative team members will be announced at a later date.