British performer Seyi Omooba will no longer star as Celie in the U.K.’s upcoming presentation of The Color Purple. As previously announced, the musical is to play Leicester’s Curve Theatre June 28–July 13 and the Birmingham Hippodrome July 16–20.
Omooba, who has appeared on the London stage in such productions as Ragtime at Charing Cross and the National Theatre’s Hadestown, had come under fire after a Facebook post from 2014, in which she stated “I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right,” resurfaced. Critics on social media were quick to point out the contradiction of holding these beliefs and playing Celie, who experiences a sexual awakening with another woman.
The Curve and Hippodrome assert that the decision follows “careful reflection” and is backed by the show’s creators and licensing company Theatrical Rights Worldwide.
“The audition process, as ever, was conducted professionally and rigorously, led by an exceptional casting director with actors who are evaluated on what they present in the audition room,” they said in a statement. “We do not operate a social media screening process in the casting of actors.”
No word yet on who will play the central character in Omooba’s place. The cast, under the direction of Tinuke Craig, also includes Joanna Francis as Shug Avery, Ako Mitchell as Mister, Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Harpo, Karen Mavundukure as Sofia, Danielle Fiamanya as Nettie, and Delroy Brown as Pa.