The producers of Broadway's Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, starring Leslie Odom, Jr., have announced a special subsidized ticket initiative for NYC public high school students. Through a partnership with the New York City Schools Theater Program and the Situation Project, students in all five boroughs will be eligible to purchase $15 tickets.
The Purlie Victorious Education Initiative, coordinated by Rachel Weinstein, will invite student groups to attend talkbacks with members of the production. Additionally, Concord Theatricals and the Dee-Davis Family will donate 2,000 copies of the published script to students. The production will also provide educators with a study guide for the play, including insight from the Dee-Davis family, interviews with the creative team, and an epilogue developed by National Black Theatre.
“High school students can come in here and learn their history,” says director Kenny Leon. “Purlie Victorious is urgent. Ossie Davis in 1961 wrote a love letter to us in 2023. They can come into this beautiful theatre to laugh and feel good about being human.”
Purlie Victorious has been welcoming students and school groups throughout its run, and recently hosted a special High School Leadership performance. Students in grades 8-12 from various New York schools were invited to attend the performance, followed by a special post-show talkback.
Joining Odom as Purlie Victorious are Kara Young as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Heather Alicia Simms as Missy Judson, Billy Eugene Jones as Gitlow Judson, Noah Robbins as Charlie Cotchipee, Vanessa Bell Calloway as Idella Landy, Jay O. Sanders as Ol' Cap'n Cotchipee, Bill Timoney as The Sheriff, and Noah Pyzik as The Deputy. Rounding out the company are understudies Donald Webber, Jr., Melvin Abston, Willa Bost, and Brandi Porter. Casting is by The Telsey Office.
The work follows a traveling preacher, Purlie, who returns to his Georgia hometown to save the local church and the cotton pickers working on Ol' Cap'n Cotchiepee's plantation. Davis both wrote and starred in the 1961 original Broadway production, appearing alongside his wife, Ruby Dee. Davis and Dee would go on to reprise their performances in a 1963 film adaptation titled Gone Are the Days! A musical adaptation premiered on Broadway in 1970, making Melba Moore a star (and a Tony winner) for her performance as Lutiebelle, singing the Gary Geld-Peter Udell score's most enduring hit, "I Got Love."
The production features scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Adam Honoré, sound design by Peter Fitzgerald, hair and wig and makeup design by J. Jared Janas, and original music by Guy Davis. Kamra A. Jacobs is production stage manager.
The revival is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Leslie Odom, Jr., Louise Gund, and Bob Boyett, along with co-producers Willette and Manny Klausner, Salman Moudhy Al-Rashid, Creative Partners Productions, Irene Gandy, Kayla Greenspan, Mark and David Golub Productions, Kenny Leon, John Gore Organization, Morwin Schmookler, Van Kaplan, Ken Greiner, Patrick W. Jones, Nicolette Robinson, National Black Theatre, Alan Alda, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Kerry Washington.