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Pittsburgh CLO Announces Casting for THE COLOR PURPLE Beginning This Month At The Benedum Center

The production will include a special lobby display featuring iconic photographs by Charles "Teenie" Harris.

By: Jun. 13, 2024
Pittsburgh CLO Announces Casting for THE COLOR PURPLE Beginning This Month At The Benedum Center  Image
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Pittsburgh CLO has announced the full cast and creative team for THE COLOR PURPLE, running June 25 - 30, 2024, at the Benedum Center.

For THE COLOR PURPLE, Pittsburgh CLO has partnered with Carnegie Museum of Art to create a unique and immersive audience experience. As they step into the Benedum Center, Guests will be greeted by a special lobby display featuring iconic photographs by Charles "Teenie" Harris. Harris, the preeminent photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, masterfully captured the essence of Pittsburgh's African American community from 1935 to 1975.  His evocative images of hope, love, and celebration beautifully mirror the powerful themes found within the musical production of THE COLOR PURPLE.

"Collaborating with Carnegie Museum of Art allows us to offer our audience a cultural event that promises to move and inspire," said Mark Fleischer, Pittsburgh CLO Executive Producer. "Harris's work beautifully complements the narrative of THE COLOR PURPLE, where visual arts and performing arts come together in celebration of storytelling!"

The Pittsburgh CLO season will also include LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at the Greer Cabaret Theater, WEST SIDE STORY, THE COLOR PURPLE, and THE MUSIC MAN at the Benedum Center, and SEUSSICAL at the Byham Theater.


Kayla Davion (Celie) is a Chita Rivera Award Recipient! Other credits include Broadway: Waitress, King Kong, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Off Broadway: White Girl In Danger. Regional: The Hippest Trip: Soul Train the Musical. TV: The Good Fight, Power Book III: Raising Kanan. Film: Disney Plus - Better Nate than Ever. @KaylaDavion

Tamyra Gray (Shug Avery) was most recently seen at Pittsburgh CLO starring as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act. Tamyra has appeared on Broadway and in the First National Tour of the Tony Award winning revival of Once on This Island. She made her Broadway debut as the lead in the musical Bombay Dreams, was praised for her starring role on Broadway as Mimi in RENT and played Kate in the first national tour of If/Then. In 2011 she starred in Debbie Allen's Twist at The Pasadena Playhouse for which she won a Beverly Hills / Hollywood NAACP Theatre Award. She's appeared on the big screen in The Gospel and was featured in Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married.

Maiesha McQueen (Sofia) Pittsburgh CLO debut! Broadway: Waitress (Becky). National Tour: Waitress, 1st Nat'l (Nurse Norma, Becky). Noted Regional: Waitress (Becky, Ogunquit Playhouse), FELA! (Funmilayo, Lambert Productions), Fannie (Fannie Lou Hamer, Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Indiana Rep), Clyde's (Clyde, Cincinnati Playhouse), Come From Away (Hannah, Gander Cast), The Color Purple (Henry Award-Best Principal Performer in a Musical, Celie, Denver Theatre Center), Ain't' Misbehavin' (New York Times Critic's Pick, Nell, Barrington Stage), The Color Purple (Sophia, Maine State Music Theatre), Until the Flood (Multiple Characters, Merrimack Rep), East Texas Hotlinks (Charlesetta, True Colors Theatre). NYU/Tisch grad. @maieshamcqueen

Gerald Caesar (Harpo) Broadway/National Tours: A Bronx Tale (OBC), Choir Boy (OBC), Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (OBC), Disney's The Lion King (National Tour). Off-Broadway: What The End Will Be (Roundabout Theatre Company). Film/TV: Only Murders in the Building (SAG Award Nominee), Dear Evan Hansen, Law & Order, Helpsters. BFA Music Theatre Elon University.

Danyel Fulton (Nettie) is making her PCLO debut! Favorite credits: Shayla, (Watch Night, PAC NYC), Ruby, (Broadbend, Arkansas, Transport Group), Actor 3, (Plays for the Plague Year, The Public), Dorothy (The Wiz, The Muny '18 & HRT '09), Charlayne (Ain't Misbehavin', HRT), Aisha (A Time to Love, National Black Theater), and Sarah (Ragtime The 5th, Asolo Rep, and TUTS). Danyel received Drama League, Antonyo, and Audelco nominations for Ruby and three Audelco nominations for Dorothy (HRT), Charlayne, and Aisha.

JUSTUS A. PAYNE (Young Harpo, Young Adam) is a rising 8th grader at Schiller STEAM Academy, he most recently appeared as Oliver Warbucks in the spring production of Annie, Jr. Justus is also a member of Alumni Theater Company, where he recently performed in the production of The Joint is Jumpin'. He has written 2 poetry eBooks and a one-act play, Come Home Happy, which was just selected for the 2024 Young Playwrights Festival at The City Theatre.

JASON SHAVERS (Ol Mister) is incredibly grateful to return for his second PCLO Summer Season! Past PCLO Credits: A Musical Christmas Carol (Watkins, Jacob Marley u/s), The Sound Of Music (Ensemble), You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown (Snoopy), Puffs (Swing), Game On (Monty Price), Perfect Wedding (Swing), First Date (Swing). Regional: Kinky Boots (Lola), Choir Boy (Headmaster Marrow), Shrek The Musical (Donkey), The Rocky Horror Show (Frank-N-Furter), Dreamgirls (Marty). Film: Fathers & Daughters and Not Cool. @jayeant

SAIGE SMITH (Squeak, u/s Nettie) Credits include: A…My Name is Still Alice (Laura) - Front Porch Theatricals, Sister Act (Tina/Ensemble), Puffs (Leanne), Kinky Boots (Pat), A Musical Christmas Carol (Fan/Alice/Belle) - Pittsburgh CLO; Skeleton Crew (Shanita) - Barebones Productions; Hamlet (Ophelia) - Quantum Theatre; Something to Live For (Production Understudy), Steel Magnolias (Annelle), A Midsummer Night's Dream in Harlem (Hermia), Murder on the Orient Express (Greta) - Pittsburgh Public Theater; and Clyde's (Letitia) - City Theatre Company.

Akron Lanier Watson (Mister) Most recently: Henry Biggs in the world premiere The Preacher's Wife. Broadway: The Color Purple Revival, The Play That Goes Wrong, Hamilton. Off-Broadway: The Public Theater: Fortress of Solitude, Signature Theatre: Black No More, York Theatre: A Sign of The Times. Regional: The Kennedy Center: Guys & Dolls, Papermill Playhouse: Sister Act, Ogunquit Playhouse: Mr. Holland's Opus. Film: Spilt Milk, Seasons of Gray, Miss Juneteenth. TV: FOX's Empire, NBC's Chicago Med. Voiceover: One Piece: Heart of Gold, Borderlands Pre-sequel, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. American Idol Season 7.

SAVANNAH LEE BIRDSONG (Darline, Ensemble, u/s Squeak) is a recent graduate of CMU. Past credits include Kinky Boots, The Sound of Music, and Sister Act.

NAZEAR N. BROWN (Adam, Ensemble) was a part of the inaugural class of the CLI Conservatory and subsequently joined their company for the 2022-23 season working with Teddy Forance, Mike Tyus, Micaela Taylor, Spenser Theberg, Ethan Colangelo, Jermaine Spivey, and more. Nazear is now based in New York, and having met choreographer Roderick George through DanceLab NYC, recently performed his new work Venom at Gibney DOUBLEPLUS curated by Kyle Abraham

Melessie Clark (Ensemble, u/s Sofia) is a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Point Park University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Melessie has been seen in PCLO's Once on This Island (Mama Euralie), Into the Woods (Lucinda), Grease (Jan), Rock of Ages (Waitress #1), The Wedding Singer (Crystal/Tina Turner), and Gypsy (Ensemble). She recently made her Off-Broadway debut in A Sign of the Times at New World Stages, NYC, and performed in the new musical, The Preacher's Wife at Alliance Theatre, Atlanta. @melessieclark

AAMAR-MALIK CULBREATH (Swing) favorite roles include Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Youngblood in Jitney (Beck Center), Tiny in Kill Move Paradise, Edmond Hodges in What We Look Like (Dobama Theatre), Pippin in Pippin, and Everybody in Everybody (Baldwin Wallace University). BWMT.

MATTHEW DISTON (Preacher, Ensemble, u/s Ol' Mister) is a senior music theater major at Carnegie Mellon. His recent credits include ensemble in PCLO's The Great Comet… and Quinn in Penelope at CMU. You can next see Matthew playing Lorca in Bicycle Pants in Lorca In A Green Dress at City Theater and playing Barrett in Titanic at Carnegie Mellon. @matthewhdiston

CASSIA HAWKINS (Young Celie, Ensemble) a rising 4th grader in Pittsburgh Public Schools. She studies voice and acting at the Pittsburgh CLO Academy, and enjoys dancing, gymnastics, and all things artsy.

Keirsten Hodgens (Jarene, Ensemble, u/s Celie) is making her PCLO debut. Favorite recent credits: SIX (Broadway), Dreamgirls (Goodspeed Operahouse), Jesus Christ Superstar (National Tour) and Masterclass (Timeline Theater). @shespeaksmusic

SANIYA LAVELLE (Young Nettie, Ensemble) is a literary major at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), who loves to write, act, dance and sing. She is a proud member of the Alumni Theater Company, where she has performed in two shows. In 2023, she had the honor of playing Zonia Loomis in Pittsburgh Playwright Theatre Company's production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone.

SAMANTHA A. NELSON (Swing) PCLO debut. She is a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University, pursuing her BFA in Musical Theatre. She has accumulated many accolades, including being a 2-time Jimmy Award-nominated actress, with performances on Broadway.

BRADY D. PATSY (Pa, Buster, Ensemble, u/s Mister) Regional Credits include: Toad in A Year With Frog and Toad, Tonton Julian in Once On This Island, Javert in Les Miserables, and Father in Children of Eden. In addition to performing this summer, Brady is starting his role as Pittsburgh CLO's Community Engagement Manager (

CARLWELL K. REDMON (Grady, Ensemble, u/s Harpo) is making his PCLO debut. He is heading into his senior year at Carnegie Mellon University studying Music Theatre. Credits: Fences (Cory), Penelope (Burns), Myths and Hymns (There's a Shout), Upcoming: Titanic (Captain). @CarlwellRedmon

CHANEL STONE (Ensemble, Dance Captain) is a performer, choreographer, creator, and skater based in Brooklyn, New York. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, she moved to NYC in 2015, where she received a BFA in dance 2019 from LIU Brooklyn. Chanel has performed works by choreographers such as Stephen Petronio, Annie B. Parson, Tendayi Kuumba, Donna Uchizono, Dwight Rhoden, Donald Byrd, and Gregory Dolbashian.

TRIPP TAYLOR (Prison Guard, Bobby, Ensemble) is a rising Junior studying Musical Theatre at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama. @trippsings

Jennifer Leigh Warren (Doris, Ensemble) has been lauded for her show-stopping performances as Alice's Daughter in the original Broadway casts of Big River ("How Blest We Are" written for her by Roger Miller), the original Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors, the original Broadway cast of Marie Christine, the Blues Singer in A Night with Janis Joplin (, Rock My Soul (LA Philharmonic/Disney Concert Hall) and on TV in RENT: LIVE! Dartmouth College Graduate, AEA member, and recent NAACP Theatre Awards nominee. THE COLOR PURPLE CREATIVE TEAM INCLUDES:


Tislarm Bouie (Choreographer)
ILANA ATKINS (Music Director, Conductor)
BRITTON MAUK (Scenic Designer)
Paul Miller (Lighting Designer)
CLAUDIA BROWNLEE (Costume Designer)
Chris Evans (Sound Designer)
TENEL DORSEY (Hair and Makeup Designer)
KYLEE LOERA (Video Designer)
RENÉE RIMLAND (Production Stage Manager)
KELLY HAYWOOD (Assistant Stage Manager)
Pam Brusoski (Assistant Stage Manager)


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