Leslie Odom, Jr. Will Return to Broadway in PURLIE VICTORIOUS: A NON-CONFEDERATE ROMP THROUGH THE COTTON PATCH, Directed by Kenny Leon

Purlie Victorious will arrive on Broadway in late summer 2023.

By: Feb. 01, 2023
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Purlie Victorious
Photo Credit: Tony Duran

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 Dee-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. Follow Purlie Victorious on social media @PurlieBroadway.

Purlie Victorious
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the original Broadway cast. Credit: Thomas E. Poag

BIOS

LESLIE ODOM, JR. (Purlie Victorious Judson) legendary singer Sam Cookeinthe film adaptation of One Night in Miami..., directed by Regina King. His portrayal of the soul icon and musical performance of original song "Speak Now" was met with widespread praise and critical acclaim, earning him multiple awards and nominations. He also starred in Love in the Time of Corona, Harriet, and many more. He is a BMG recording artist and has released four full-length albums. is a multifaceted Tony and Grammy Award-winning, three-time Emmy and two-time Academy Award-nominated vocalist, songwriter, author, and actor. With a career that spans all performance genres, Odom has received recognition for his excellence and achievements in Broadway, television, film, and music.

He can currently be seen in Rian Johnson's critically acclaimed Knives Out sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, streaming worldwide on Netflix. Odom is currently in production on the highly anticipated sequel to the original iconic film The Exorcist. The film is scheduled to be released in October 2023.In 2020, Odom starred as award-winning Amazon The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to David Chase's award-winning HBO series The Sopranos, released in October 2021. Well known for his breakout role as 'Aaron Burr' in the smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton, Odom hosted "The Tony Awards Present: Broadway's Back!" on CBS in September 2021 (2022 Emmy nomination). Additional film and television credits include Apple TV+'s Central Park (2020 Emmy nomination), Hamilton on Disney+ (2021 Emmy nomination), Abbott Elementary, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, 2023. Co-written with Nicolette Robinson, Odom's first children's book, I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know, will be published by Feiwel & Friends on March 28,

Ossie Davis (Playwright) Ossie Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia. He graduated high school in Waycross, Georgia, and attended Howard University. In 1939, he began his career as a writer and actor with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem. In 1946, Mr. Davis made his Broadway debut in Jeb, and went on to perform in many Broadway productions, including Anna Lucasta, The Wisteria Trees, Green Pastures, Jamaica, Ballad for Bimshire (which he co-produced), The Zulu and the Zayda, and I'm Not Rappaport (which he later reprised on film with Walter Matthau). In 1961, Mr. Davis wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Purlie Victorious. He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994. After making his film debut in No Way Out (1950, with Sidney Poitier), Mr. Davis appeared in such films as The Cardinal, The Hill, The Scalphunters, Let's Do It Again, Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men, Get on the Bus, Doctor Dolittle, Bubba Ho-Tep and Baadassss. In 1970, Mr. Davis directed his first feature film, Cotton Comes to Harlem. He went on to direct four others: Gordon's War, Kongi's Harvest, Black Girl, and Countdown at Kusini, which he also co-produced with his wife, Ruby Dee. Mr. Davis' small screen debut was in the 1955 production of The Emperor Jones, in the title role. He received Emmy Award nominations for his work in Teacher, Teacher, King, and Miss Evers Boys; in 2001, Mr. Davis was awarded a Daytime Emmy for playing the title role in the children's special Finding Buck McHenry. He was a regular or recurring player in the series The Defenders, With Ossie & Ruby, B.L. Stryker, Evening Shade, The Client, Promised Land and The L Word. Additional television credits include Night Gallery, The Sheriff, Bonanza, Roots: The Next Generation, Alex Haley's Queen, The Stand, Showtime's 12 Angry Men, Touched By An Angel, Third Watch, City of Angels, and Deacons for Defense. His television writing credits include episodes of East Side/West Side and the teleplay For Us, The Living, for which he received the Neil Simon Jury Award. With his wife, Mr. Davis produced several television specials, including Today is Ours, Martin Luther King: The Dream & The Drum, and two segments of A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers. They also co- produced the television series With Ossie & Ruby, which aired for three seasons. In 1980, Mr. Davis and Ms. Dee founded their own production company, Emmalyn II Productions Company, Inc. Mr. Davis was the author of three children's books: Escape to Freedom (honored by the American Library Association and the Jane Addams Children's Book Award); Langston; and Just Like Martin. In 1998, he and Ruby Dee marked their 50th wedding anniversary with the publication of their joint autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, the audio version of which won a Grammy. Mr. Davis received many honors and citations, including the N.Y. Urban League Frederick Douglass Award, the NAACP Image Award, the National Medal of Arts, and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. In December 2004, Mr. Davis and Ms. Dee were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors. Mr. Davis died on February 4, 2005 at the age of 87.

Kenny Leon (Director) is a Tony Award winning director who also has been honored with The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, an Obie Award and an NAACP Image Award. Mr. Leon is also a proud honoree of the George Abbott Lifetime Achievement for American Theatre. Mr. Leon is on the producing team of Some Like It Hot, the musical directed by Casey Nicholaw. Broadway: A Soldier's Play; American Son; Children of a Lesser God; Holler If Ya Hear Me; A Raisin in the Sun; The Mountaintop; Stick Fly; August Wilson's Fences, Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. Off-Broadway: The Underlying Chris, Everybody's Ruby, Emergence-See! (The Public); Smart People (Second Stage). Television: Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia; Colin in Black & White; 4400; Amend: The Fight for America; American Son (adapted for Netflix); Hairspray Live!; The Wiz Live!; Steel Magnolias; Dynasty; In My Dreams. Author: Take You Wherever You Go. Artistic Director Emeritus, Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. Senior Resident Director: Roundabout Theatre Company. Leon most recently directed this fall's critically acclaimed productions of Ohio State Murders by Adrienne Kennedy and Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog.




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