PURLIE VICTORIOUS — Kara Young On A Revival 60+ Years in the Making
After more than six decades, Ossie Davis’ classic American comedy, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch is returning to Broadway. Not only is this the play’s return to Broadway, but it’s also Tony Award winner Leslie Odom, Jr.’s first show back since departing Hamilton in 2016.
Purlie Victorious is a rousing, laugh-filled comedy that tells the story of a Black preacher’s ploy to reclaim his inheritance and win back his church. The play 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. This revival’s cast features, alongside Odom, Jr. as Purlie Victorious Judson, Kara Young as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Billy Eugene Jones as Gitlow Judson, Jay O. Sanders as Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee, Heather Alicia Simms as Missy Judson, Vanessa Bell Calloway as Idella Landy, Noah Robbins as Charlie Cotchipee, Noah Pyzik as The Deputy, and Bill Timoney as The Sheriff, with Melvin Abston, Willa Bost, Brandi Porter, and Donald Webber Jr. serving as understudies and standbys.
I caught up with Young on the set of Theatrely’s Fall Preview to chat about bringing this rousing piece of American theatre back to the stage.
“It’s very special to be back on Broadway. Being in a community that is about making art, and pushing a message forward, and being a storyteller is always so wonderful, and this time doing it with Ossie Davis’ words, it's very kismet and almost indescribable,” said Young.
And for those who are unfamiliar with the play, you’re not alone. Young said, “To be honest, I did not know about Purlie until I read this script, and many people I have spoken to were not aware of this play. But it is a revolutionary satirical play—it dissects the absurdity of the racial and social structures of our America and investigates the legacy of slavery in this country and what it means to be together.”
Kenny Leon will direct the revival. The creative team also includes scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Adam Honoré, sound design by Peter Fitzgerald, wig, hair, and makeup design by J. Jared Janas, and incidental music by Guy Davis.
Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch began performances on Thursday, September 7, 2023, with an official opening night set for Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway.
For tickets and more information, click here.