Following the financially and critically successful run of "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino, the Broadway production of The Color Purple will welcome recording star Chaka Khan to the cast in January of 2008. Joining her will be another "Idol" contestant, LaKisha Jones.
Khan will take over the role of Sofia, played by the musical's producer Oprah Winfrey in the overrated Stephen Spielberg movie of Alice Walker's book. Jones will be the featured church soloist, and will sub for Kahn as Sofia at matinée performances.
I finally caved in a bought a ticket this show next month (assuming that the threatened stagehands strike doesn't render my ticket moot). I haven't yet seen the show because I just hadn't been hearing very good things about it, and I've always had something else I wanted to see on my recent trips to New York.
But then Fantasia starting getting great reviews, and I started feeling guilty as a blogger and as a teacher of musical theater. I figured I owed it to my readers and to my students to bite the bullet and see and weigh in on the show. (A similar feeling impelled me to finally purchase a ticket to Jersey Boys.)
But back to Chaka Khan. All I can say is I'm glad that I can finally recognize the name of a pop star who's being brought in for stunt-casting reasons. Seeing all these "Idol" winners and castoffs stepping into featured roles, but not having the slightest clue as to who any of these people were, was making me feel a little old and out-of-touch.
Look for my reviews of both The Color Purple and Jersey Boys next month. God and the stagehands union willing.