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10 things to know about ‘The Color Purple’ as it plays at the Benedum

November 8, 2017 GMT

“The Color Purple,” the Tony-winning revival, is coming to the Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, for eight performances from Nov. 14 to 19 as part of its North American tour. The production is a presentation of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series. Here are 10 facts you may not know about the show.

1. “The Color Purple” has gone from Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to a Stephen Spielberg-directed movie in 1985 to the 2005 Broadway musical, followed by the current revival, which began touring in 2016.

2. The New York Times said this 2016 revival far surpassed the earlier production. “That earlier ‘Color Purple,’ a box-office hit, was a big, gaudy, lumbering creature that felt oversold and overdressed,” wrote Ben Brantley. “The current version is a slim, fleet-footed beauty, simply attired and beguilingly modest. Don’t be deceived, though, by its air of humility. There’s a deep wealth of power within its restraint.”

3. The movie and musicals stick pretty closely to the book’s plot, which revolves around Celie, a poor black girl in Georgia who suffers abuse first at the hands of her father and then by the husband, “Mr.,” who she’s forced to marry. She overcomes her circumstances with the help of her husband’s lover, Shug Avery, and achieves some degree of freedom.

4. The book is told mostly through letters Celie writes to herself and to her long-absent sister, Nettie.

5. The 2016 revival marked the Broadway debut of Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery.

6. The 1985 movie version of “The Color Purple” was both Whoopi Goldberg’s and Oprah Winfrey’s film debut. Goldberg (as Celie) won a Golden Globe and earned a best actress Oscar nomination for her performance; Winfrey (Sofia) was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar. In all, the movie got 11 nominations, but didn’t take home any wins — tying 1977′s “The Turning Point” for the most Oscar nominations without a single win.

7. Spielberg called “The Color Purple” his first “grown-up” film, according to ABC News. His eighth movie, it was a departure from the summer blockbusters, like “E.T.” and “Jaws,” that made him famous. The movie earned Spielberg his first Directors Guild Award.

8. The musical includes a score featuring jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues. The original 2005 Broadway production ran until 2008 and earned 11 Tony Awards.

9. The show’s Grammy Award-winning score features such songs as “Somebody Gonna Love You,” “Shug Avery Comin’ to Town,” “Push Da Button,” “I’m Here” and “The Color Purple.”

10. The revival of “The Color Purple” opened in London in summer 2013, followed by its Broadway opening in November 2015 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The show played 483 performances on Broadway before closing on Jan. 8, 2017.

e The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will offer a free pre-show talk about the musical for all PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh patrons at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15, one hour before show time, at the Trust Arts Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Ave. Refreshments will be served. Register at TrustArts.org/KnowTheShow.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.