The winter doldrums are really taking their toll. First the Off-Broadway revival of The Fantasticks announced that it was closing. Now comes the announcement that Broadway's The Color Purple will play its last performance in February. The show has long since made back its $11-million investment, has grossed over $100 million, and will have played 910 performances and 30 previews, putting it past such classic musicals as Carousel and Camelot.
The Broadway cast currently features Chaka Khan as Sofia, Bebe Winans as Harpo, and "American Idol" finalist Lakisha Jones as the church soloist. Apparently all of that supposed star power wasn't enough to make up for the loss of Fantasia Barrino.
I'm reminded of when Tony winner Gregory Hines left Jelly's Last Jam. Even when the producers brought in Ben Vereen, Phylicia Ryshad, and Brian Stokes Mitchell, it wasn't enough to keep the show afloat without its original star. Although the original star of The Color Purple, the Tony-winning LaChanze, has long since left the show, Fantasia provided a box-office lift that Khan, Winans, and Jones apparently couldn't replicate.
I never got a chance to see The Color Purple on Broadway. Although I did make the effort, I was waylaid by traffic. (See my tale of woe posted here.) But I do hope to catch the national tour when it wends its way to somewhere in the Boston vicinity. And there is talk of making a movie version of the musical.
The Color Purple plays at the Broadway Theater until February 24th.