Paper Mill Playhouse Announces Cast and Team for ‘The Color Purple’


Cast of The Color Purple_Photo by Matthew Murphy


From Paper Mill Playhouse:

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director), recipient of the  Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016, is proud to announce casting for The Color Purple, directed by Tony Award winner John DoyleThe Color Purple is a Tony Award-winning revival based upon the novel written by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment motion picture with a book byMarsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. Cast members from the 2015 Broadway revival lead the Paper Mill Playhouse company, including Adrianna Hicks (Aladdin,Sister Act – Germany) as Celie, Carla R. Stewart (Ghost – National Tour, Rent – Regional) as Shug Avery and Carrie Compere (Holler If You Hear MeShrek the Musical – National Tour) as Sofia.

They will be joined by Gavin Gregory (The Color PurpleThe Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess) as Mister, N’Jameh Camara (X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation) as Nettie, Jay Donnell (Miss Saigon) as Harpo, along withDarnell Abraham, Amar Atkins, Kyle E. Baird, Angela Birchett, Erica Durham, Bianca Horn, Jamal James, Mekhai Lee, Gabrielle Reid, C.E. Smith, Will T. Travis, Nyla Watson, J.D. Webster, Brit West and Nikisha WilliamsThe Color Purple will run at Paper Mill Playhouse from September 26 through October 21, 2018. Major support for The Color Purple is provided by the PSEG Foundation. Paper Mill Playhouse’s 2018-2019 season is proudly sponsored by Investors Bank.

The Color Purple, the Tony Award-winning revival that thrilled Broadway audiences is coming to Paper Mill, where director John Doyle will remount his visionary production. This unforgettable and moving musical based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Academy Award-nominated film features a soul-raising, Grammy-winning score infused with jazz, gospel, ragtime, and blues. The Color Purple, with a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, is a stirring family chronicle about the power of love and life. This show contains adult themes.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to remount The Color Purple at the renowned Paper Mill Playhouse,” said director John Doyle.  “It’s travelled a long journey from London’s tiny Menier Chocolate Factory, to its Tony-winning Broadway run, to a successful U.S. national tour. These weeks at the wonderful Paper Mill Playhouse will be the perfect coda to the journey. Now, more than ever, we need to be reminded of Alice Walker’s inspirational story.”

The Color Purple will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through SundayPerformance schedule: Wednesday at 7:30pmThursday at 1:30pm and 7:30pmFriday at 8:00pm,Saturday at 1:30pm and 8:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Tickets are on sale now starting at $34. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more may receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. Season subscriptions are on sale now and are available by calling 973.379.3717.  Students may order $23-$28 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

N’JAMEH CAMARA (Nettie). Credits: The Color Purple (first national revival tour), X: or, Betty Shabazz vs. The Nation (world premiere/national tour), Julius Caesar (Off Broadway), Up Here (La Jolla Playhouse),OjO (La Jolla Playhouse), Marguerite to Maya (an original one-woman show), Dance of the Holy Ghosts (Ubuntu Theater Project), The Wiz (Theatre at the Center). MFA Acting from UC San Diego.

 CARRIE COMPERE (Sofiaplayed Sofia in The Color Purple on Broadway as well as on the national tour. Also: The Golden Apple (Lovey Mars/The Siren, Encores!), Holler If Ya Hear Me (Broadway), Shrek: The Musical (national tour). Off Broadway: The Lightning Thief (Sally Jackson), Sistas: The MusicalLord Tom. Regional: Smokey Joe’s Cafe (TUTS). TV: Seven SecondsNYC 22Gurland on GurlandShow Boat: Live from Lincoln Center.

 JAY DONNELL (Harpo). Paper Mill debut! Tours: The Color Purple (Harpo), Miss Saigon (Ensemble, John u/s). Select Regional: Ragtime (Coalhouse); Once on This Island (Agwe); Clybourne Park (Albert/Kevin, Laguna Playhouse); Lythgoe Panto’s Aladdin and His Winter Wish (Genie); Mamma Mia! (Hollywood Bowl); Kiss Me, Kate (Hortensio/Fred); Memphis (Bobby); Frozen—Live at the Hyperion (Grand Pabbie/Bishop);Side Show (Jake); South Pacific (Hollywood Bowl). Commercials: Honda, Allstate, Dodge, Bud Light. TV/Film: Lost Tapes (Discovery Channel), A Portrait of James Dean (Iconoclastic Features).

GAVIN GREGORY (Mister). I’m honored to perform in this musical about love and redemption. Broadway: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Crown standby), The Color Purple. Tours: The Color Purple (Mister), Kinky Boots (Simon Sr.), The Lion King (first national). Regional: Man of La Mancha (Cervantes/Don Quixote), The Whipping Man (Simon), Ragtime (Coalhouse); Violet (Flick); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee(Mitch Mahoney).

ADRIANNA HICKS (Celieis beyond thrilled to be making her Paper Mill Playhouse debut as Celie in The Color Purple! Broadway: The Color Purple (revival, swing), Aladdin (Fortune Teller/Jasmine’s Attendant). National Tour: The Color Purple (Celie). Regional/International: Sister Act (Deloris u/s, Germany), Legally Blonde (Judge/Pilar u/s, Austria), Ragtime (Sarah), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Marlena), and a backup singer for Michael Bublé’s Call Me Irresponsible Tour in Oklahoma.

CARLA R. STEWART (Shug Averyis excited to make her Paper Mill debut as Shug Avery after touring the country in the same role and making her Broadway debut in the Tony- and Grammy-winning revival (as Olivia/Church Lady). She is still bubbling with joy telling this great story! Recent/favorite regional credits: first national tour of Ghost: The Musical (Oda Mae Brown), The Wiz (Dorothy), Rent (Joanne), Ain’t Misbehavin’(Nell). AMDA New York graduate.

The creative team for The Color Purple includes Tony Award winner John Doyle (Direction, Scenic Design), Darryl Archibald (Music Direction), Tony Award winner Ann Hould-Ward (Costume Design), Tony Award nominee Jane Cox (Lighting Design), Dan Moses Schreier (Sound Design), Drama Desk winner Charles G. LaPointe (Hair and Wig Design), Melissa Chacón (Production Stage Manager) and Telsey + Company(Casting).

JOHN DOYLE (Direction, Scenic Design). Broadway: Sweeney Todd (Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Director), Company (Tony Award for Best Revival), A Catered Affair (Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical), The Visit (Tony nomination, best musical), The Color Purple (Tony Award for Best Revival, Drama Desk Award for Best Director). Off Broadway: Wings (Second Stage); Road Show (Public); Where’s Charley?Irma La Douce (City Center Encores!). Regional: Kiss Me, Kate! (Stratford Festival); The Caucasian Chalk Circle (A.C.T.); Merrily We Roll AlongThe Three Sisters (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Ten Cents a Dance (Williamstown Theatre Festival); The Exorcist (Geffen Playhouse). In the U.K., John has been artistic director of four regional theaters; numerous credits include The GondoliersMack and Mabel (West End), A Midsummer Night’s DreamOklahoma!, and Amadeus. Opera includes Lucia di Lammermoor (Sydney), Peter Grimes (Met), The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany (Los Angeles). He is artistic director of CSC in New York City, where his productions include PassionAllegroPeer GyntDead Poets SocietyPacific Overtures, Fire and Air, and most recently Carmen Jones.

DARRYL ARCHIBALD (Music Director). The Color Purple (national tour); Motown: The Musical (Broadway and national tour); Wicked (Pantages Theatre, substitute conductor); Memphis (national tour); Dreamgirls(national tour, associate conductor); Disney’s The Lion King (national tour, vocal coach/assistant conductor); Dear World with Tyne Daly (VPAC); Jonathan Dove’s Innocence (Banff Centre and Manhattan Theatre Club);Two by Two with Jason Alexander, How to Succeed… with John O’Hurley, The Fantasticks with Eric McCormack, Once on This Island with Ledisi, and Li’l Abner with Cathy Rigby and Fred Willard (Reprise); Great ExpectationsMy Fair Lady1776Camelot, and Forever Plaid (Utah Shakespeare Festival); A Hollywood Holiday Celebration (ABC TV), The Fountain ShowChristmas Trolley Show (The Grove LA).

ANN HOULD-WARD (Costume Design). Select Broadway: The Color PurpleThe VisitThe People in the PictureA Free Man of Color (Drama Desk nomination), A Catered Affair (Drama Desk nomination), Beauty and the Beast (Tony Award), Into the Woods (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), FalsettosSunday in the Park with George (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Saint JoanLittle Me. Off Broadway: Pacific Overtures,Dead Poets SocietyPassion (Classic Stage Company); Notes from the Field (Second Stage); Russian TransportThe Blue FlowerRoad ShowLobster AliceCymbeline. Ms. Hould-Ward’s work can be seen in over 35 international companies of Beauty and the Beast and in shows all over the world. More than 100 regional credits, including Can-Can at Paper Mill. Inaugural recipient of FIT’s Patricia Zipprodt Award.

JANE COX (Lighting Design). Previous collaborations with John Doyle include Pacific OverturesPeer GyntAllegro, and Passion at Classic Stage Company; The Color Purple on Broadway and in London; Road Show; and Lucia di Lammermoor. Recent theater credits include JitneyNoises Off, and Amélie on Broadway; Othello at NYTW; and Hamlet in London; and previous Broadway credits also include Machinal, All the Way,Picnic, and others. Jane has been nominated for two Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards, and she is a member of the Monica Bill Barnes Company and is the director of the theater program at Princeton University.

DAN MOSES SCHREIER (Sound Design). Broadway: The Iceman Cometh (with Denzel Washington), FalsettosAmerican PsychoThe VisitA Gentleman’s Guide to Love & MurderSondheim on SondheimA Little Night MusicGypsy (Patti LuPone), A Catered AffairRadio Golf, John Doyle’s production of Sweeney ToddGem of the OceanPacific OverturesAssassinsInto the WoodsTopdog/UnderdogDirty BlondeNoise/Funk. He has composed scores for the Broadway productions of The Merchant of Venice (Al Pacino), Julius Caesar (Denzel Washington), and The Tempest (Patrick Stewart). He has received five Tony nominations and four Drama Desk Awards. Dan is currently composing a musical with Brian Selznick based on Brian’s book The Houdini Box, commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse.

CHARLES G. LAPOINTE (Hair & Wig Design). Paper Mill: The Sting, NewsiesThe Hunchback of Notre DameThe Outsider1776. Over 90 Broadway shows including HamiltonBeautiful: The Carole King MusicalThe Cher ShowAnastasiaThe Band’s VisitSpongeBob SquarePants (Drama Desk Award), AmélieMotownMemphisAllegianceA Gentleman’s Guide to Love & MurderThe Color PurpleDoctor Zhivago,Of Mice and MenVioletSide ShowThe Elephant ManAfter MidnightClybourne ParkNewsiesJekyll & HydeThe MountaintopSuperior DonutsBonnie and Clyde, and In the Heights. Television: Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (Emmy nomination), The Wiz Live! (Emmy nomination), Blue BloodsAmerican CrimeMadoffHairspray.

MELISSA CHACÓN (Production Stage Manager). National Tours: The Color PurpleThe BodyguardThe Bridges of Madison CountyWe Will Rock YouBilly ElliotContactRent. Off Broadway: Avenue Q. Regional credits include The Iceman Cometh at BAM with Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy, The Bodyguard at Paper Mill Playhouse, and Les Misérables. She earned her MFA in Stage Management from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.

TELSEY + COMPANY (Casting). Broadway/Tours: The Cher ShowThe PromTorch SongPretty WomanMy Fair LadyCarouselMean GirlsFrozenOnce on This IslandAnastasiaCome from AwayWaitress;HamiltonKinky BootsWickedHello, Dolly!Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryOn Your Feet!. Off Broadway: Be More Chill, Atlantic Theater Company, Classic Stage Company, MCC Theater, Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Second Stage Theater. Regional: Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, New York Stage and Film, Pasadena Playhouse, Wallis Annenberg Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival. Film: Mary Poppins ReturnsThe Greatest ShowmanMiss SloaneInto the WoodsMargin CallRachel Getting Married. TV: This Is UsHouse of CardsDivorceNCIS: New OrleansOne Day at a TimeAtypical, commercials.

Accessibility Performances for The Color Purple

Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for The Color Purple on Saturday, October 20, 2018, at 1:30pm and Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 1:30pm. Prior to these performances at noon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.  There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 7:00pm.

Free Audience Enrichment Activities for The Color Purple

Conversation Club: Join us Thursday evenings, September 27October 4October 11 and October 18 one hour before curtain for an informal, informative gathering. You’ll learn more about the performance you’re about to see.

The Director’s Viewpoint: One hour before curtain at 6:30pm on Wednesday, September 26, we host a pre-show discussion in the Renee Foosaner Art Gallery.

Q&A with the Cast: After the matinee on Saturday, October 20, stick around for a lively Q&A with cast members directly following the performance.

Paper Mill Playhouse’s 80th anniversary season also includes Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn (November 21-December 30), based on the beloved Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film. This heartwarming, toe-tapping production features more than 20 classic songs from the Berlin catalog, including “Easter Parade,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” and “White Christmas.” In the winter, Paper Mill Playhouse presents the world-premiere musical My Very Own British Invasion (January 31-March 3), directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell. The 1960s British music scene comes to life with songs from Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, The Moody Blues, and other legendary bands of the era. The spring brings the East Coast premiere of Benny & Joon (April 4-May 5). Based on the 1993 film which starred Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson, this new musical is a smart, funny, tender-hearted celebration of love: between children and parents; romantic partners; friends; and, most of all, siblings. The final production of the season, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (May 29-June 30), an international sensation that has played to more than 35 million people in 13 countries. Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature, the stage production includes all of the original songs from the movie by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, plus additional gems by Menken and Tim Rice.

“Paper Mill Playhouse is thrilled to produce a season of all musicals in our exciting 2018-2019 lineup including a world premiere and an East Coast premiere,” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director of the Millburn theater. “Producing new works is central to our vision of becoming recognized as one of the most important incubators of new musical projects. We’re opening our doors to collaborate with and host the top talents of musical theater, whether they be established artists like Jerry Mitchell, or up-and-coming playwrights and composers. Of course, none of what we do would be possible without the generous support of our subscribers, donors, patrons, foundations and corporate partners, including the many years of season sponsorship from our friends at Investors Bank.”

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016, is one of the country’s leading regional theaters.  Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

For additional information, please visit www.papermill.org.