The Color Purple
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Book by: Marsha Norman Music & Lyrics by: Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray
SHOW TIMES: Thursday, September 28th
- Sunday, October 15th

Wed & Thurs 7:30pm / Fri & Sat 8:00pm
Wed & Sun 2:00pm


Thank you to all our patrons and supporters for your patience. We have done everything to try to save this beautiful show but I’m afraid we received news this morning of additional illness in the cast and there is no choice but to close our production of The Color Purple. The very essence of live theatre is that anything can happen – including unfortunate things.

This is a devastating blow to all of us here – this is not the way we wanted it to end.

People who saw the show were moved beyond words. I wish we could have seen it through to a standing ovation ending but some things are just out of our control and the safety of our actors always has to come first.

We have learned many lessons from this season and are already planning a course of action to anticipate the possibility of cast interruptions in our 2024 season.

Financially, this is a devastating blow to Ivoryton Playhouse as well. Please consider turning your ticket purchase into a 2024 membership donation to the Playhouse. Your support (love and patience) is needed and appreciated now more than ever.

Our wonderful box office staff will be emailing and calling patrons holding tickets. Again, we are as deeply disappointed as you are.



THE COLOR PURPLE is an inspiring saga that tells the unforgettable story of a woman who, through love, finds strength to triumph over adversity and discover her voice in the world. This musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (and 1985 Steven Spielberg film) spotlights Celie, a downtrodden young woman whose personal awakening over the course of 40 years forms the arc of this epic story. With a joyous score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues, THE COLOR PURPLE is a story of hope, a testament to the healing power of love, and a celebration of life.

Ticket prices:  $60 adult; $55 senior; $25 student

DID YOU KNOW?  Ivoryton Playhouse offers discounted tickets on Thursday nights!  On Thursday nights at 6:00pm, tickets for that night’s 7:30pm performance can be purchased for only $25.  Limit four tickets per person.  Tickets available at the box office only, for that performance only.  Subject to availability. It is a mission of Ivoryton Playhouse to bring affordable, professional, high quality theatre experiences to our community.

Samantha Rae Bass* (Church Soloist) is a native of Cookeville, TN. Her past works include The Bodyguard, Leader Of The Pack, Beehive, The 60’s Musical, Rock and Roll Redemption, and roles such as Marie/ Fairgodmother in Cinderella, Shug Avery in The Color Purple, Effie White in “Dream Girls” as well as Felicia in “Memphis, The Musical.”  Samantha is the creative director/owner at Move In Motivation. Samantha also writes her own audio stories and has also done some commercial/film projects. Samantha would like to thank her friends and family for their continuous support of her passions. For booking inquires send emails to

Michael Charles (Buster / Ensemble 1) is a native of Birmingham, Alabama but now resides in New York City.  He attended The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he was a double major in Theater & Dance. He’s been in a host of regional theater productions around the United States, a company dancer at AROVA Contemporary Ballet, a Production Cast Principal (Singer-Dancer) for Norwegian Cruise Lines & is an award winning instructor  and choreographer for various competitive dance teams & performing arts institutions in the southeast.  (he/him)

Jeané Cummins (Doris) is a 24-year-old who is so excited to perform tonight! She has been in numerous musicals and a couple of plays such as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, she played the understudy of Marcy Parks and ensemble. Working the Musical, where she played the role of Maggie Holmes. Shrek the Musical, where she played the role of Dragon.  Little Shop of Horrors, where she played Chiffon. Beauty and the Beast, where she played the role of Wardrobe. Full Circle (Off-Broadway), where she originated the role of Halley. Legally Blonde where she played Paulette. Plays include Midnight Summer’s Dream at the Mile Square Theatre, where she played the role of Moth. Fortune, where she played the role of Mama by the playwright George Cameron Grant. Somewhere I can scream (Off-Broadway), where she played the roles of Alice Bustin, Agnes, and College girl 1. Lucy/Bluebeard by Ed Levy, where she played Narrator. She just recently came back from a 3 month European Tour called “The Original USA Gospel Singer” “I fell in love with this musical many years ago and it’s a dream come true to perform for you all tonight”!

Cedrick Ekra (Harpo) is positively pumped to make his Ivoryton debut! Off-Broadway: Powerline Road (Man 1, Jeffrey & Paula Gural Theater/ART), Call Me From The Grave (Son House, Jerry Orbach Theater). Regional: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Drifter, Ogunquit Playhouse), Beautiful… (Drifter, Tuacahn Hafen Theatre), The Scottsboro Boys (Clarence Norris, Playhouse on Park), Evita (Magaldi, Jean’s Playhouse). Film: I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Male Singer). Cruise: Icons/Lights, Camera, Music  (Norwegian Cruise Line). Cedrick would like to thank the cast, crew, and production team for an amazing first experience in beautiful Ivoryton! About Artists. Emerson BFA MT ’22. Bisou mama. @cedrickekra

Andrea Fleming* (Celie) is an actor, singer, dancer, and musician from Michigan! Previous work includes Michelle + Deena U/S in Dreamgirls (The Phoenix Theatre Company), Dynamite + Inez U/S in Hairspray the Musical (Australian Tour), Celie in The Color Purple (The Phoenix Theatre Company), Diana Ross/Patti LaBelle in Beehive (Peterborough Players), Corie in Barefoot in the Park (Lake Dillon Theatre Company), Sherrie in Rock of Ages (Lake Dillon Theatre Company), Tiana in Mickey and the Wondrous Book (Hong Kong Disneyland), Narrator in Joseph (Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre), and various performances with the Motown tribute group, Shadows of the 60s. The most love and gratitude to God, Mom, Jim, Marc, and Dave. Instagram: @theandreality

Renée Jackson* (Shug Avery) couldn’t be happier to return to absolute bliss at the Ivoryton Playhouse! You may have previously seen her in Memphis the musical as Felicia Farrell seasons past. Notable credits: Justice (Rock of Ages), Marley (Margaritaville), Oda Mae (Ghost), Sarah (Ragtime), Shanghai Disney, Busch Gardens Tampa, Celebrity Cruises. Ms. Jackson would like to thank her cast & crew for bringing their bodies, minds, and souls to this work. A special thank you to Todd, Jaqui, and the team for a chance to tell this beautiful story that’s been so dear to her since she was a little girl. “Love ya!” to Mom, Dad, AJ, Matt, Phil, & fellow underdogs! Look what God has done! @the.reneessance Jer 29:11 

Rae Janeil (Squeak) is excited to be back at Ivoryton, where they were last seen as Jo in The Legend of Georgia McBride and as Rosie in Cabaret. Favorite performing credits include Player & Berthe u/s in Pippin, Joanne in Rent, The Lady in The Scottsboro Boys, Mae in The Wild Party, Michelle in Dreamgirls, Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone and Janet in The Rocky Horror Show. Select Choreography credits include White Christmas, Footloose, Frozen, and Urinetown while Director credits include Blood at the RootHow to Tie a TieBrave Blood and Crowns. Upcoming, Rae’s direction of August Wilson’s one-man autobiographical show, How I Learned What I Learned will be showing at Brookfield Theatre and Swiped at Ivoryton Women Playwrights Festival. (she/they)

Mairys Joaquin* (Nettie)  is excited to make her debut at the Ivoryton Playhouse as Nettie. Mairys is a Dominican-American, bilingual actor from Queens, NY. Broadway National Tours: Denise (Jane u/s) in A Bronx Tale. Regional: Nicola in Kinky Boots (Arts Center at Coastal Carolina/Arvada Center), Red in Shout: The Mod Musical (Greenbrier Valley Theatre), Abby in The Mercy Seat (Roxy Regional Theatre). (she/her)  Instagram: @mairys, TikTok: @mairys_.   “No one of us can be free until everybody is free.” Support your local ACLU at

Nina Laing (Jarene) Originally from The Bahamas, Nina is grateful for the opportunity to perform on stages across The U.S., and especially thrilled to be a part of this phenomenal cast of The Color Purple. Credits include: Urinetown (Mac-Haydn Theatre), Kiss Me, Kate (Mac-Haydn Theatre), Scrooge (Theatre Workshop of Nantucket), Raisin (Regency Theatre). 

Christian McQueen* (Mister) Originally a native of Southern California, Christian is a multi-hyphenate based in NYC. Some of his notable roles include Gleb (Anastasia), Sky Masterson (Guys and Dolls), and Benny (In The Heights). Christian is elated to be part of this production at Ivoryton Playhouse. He would like to thank his family and everyone else who has supported him along the way. Follow his journey: @theshow6000

NéLasheé* (Church Lady Darlene/Ensemble)  is excited to be making her Ivoryton Playhouse debut.  She is a former member and Musical Director of the Harlem Gospel Choir. She has performed in several regional musical theater productions, including three previous productions of The Color Purple (as Sofia and Church Lady Doris u/s Shug Avery), two productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’ as Nell Carter, and Avenue Q as Gary Coleman.  One of her most memorable/honorable roles/experiences was in Dreamgirls as Effie White, a role in which Henry Krieger (composer) lauded her for singing “I’m Not Going” exactly the way he wrote it to be sung.  She would like to thank Todd LaBron-Underwood & the Ivoryton Playhouse Production Team for the opportunity to play in one of her most favorite shows, The Color Purple. (she/her/hers)  Enjoy the journey! IG: @only1nelashee Website:

Tony Perry* (Ol’ Mister) is an actor, singer-songwriter, and voiceover artist. He’s been seen on the New York stage in the US premiere of Murray Schisgal’s 74 Georgia Ave., which was performed in English and Yiddish; Caroline, or Change; Leslie Lee and Charles Strouse’s Martin: A New BeginningBastard JonesRaisinAllegroMore Than All The WorldA Shelter In Our CarRepo: The Genetic OperaThe Groove FactoryCross That River; and The Bonus Army. Among his favorite roles are Delray in Memphis, Jim Conley in Parade; Tee Tot in Hank Williams: Lost Highway; Big Moe in Five Guys Named Moe, Ken in Ain’t Misbehavin, Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show, Parchester in Me and My Girl, Lestrade in The Remarkable Mister Holmes, and Jim in Big River. As a singer-songwriter, he has performed all across the northeast, has three CDs available at, and iTunes. He is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity Association.

Justin Sudderth (Ensemble 2) Recent credits include Jelly’s Last Jam (Young Jelly) at The Long Wharf Theatre), Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Judah) at The Palace Theatre, and Something Rotten (Minstrel) at the Forestburgh Playhouse. @justinaaronsudderth

Sheniqua Denise Trotman* (Sofia) is thrilled to make her fourth return to the Ivoryton Playhouse stage. In 2014, her portrayal of Effie in Dreamgirls at the Ivoryton Playhouse earned her the prestigious Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Debut. Her past credits include: Chicago, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Once on This Island and The Life.  For the past two years, Sheniqua has passionately pursued a mission close to her heart: rekindling the spirit of communal singing within her community. This endeavor gave rise to “Elevated Expression”. Through Elevated Expression, she orchestrates workshops, song circles, and various vocal activation events that unite individuals in the joy of singing together as a community. To stay in tune with her journey, be sure to follow Sheniqua on Instagram at @_elevatedexpression. “Thank you to my hubby and my Bella for all of your support and love.”

Michael Wordly* (Pa / Ensemble 3) favorite credits include Kinky Boots Paramount Theatre (2022 Jeff Award Winner Best Actor in a Musical) Broadway National Tours/Off-Broadway: The Color Purple (Revival), Miss Saigon (Revival), The Little Mermaid (5th Avenue theatre). Cinderella (Paper Mill Playhouse), Spamilton, and Memphis (Henry Award winner: Best Supporting Actor). Endless thanks to my family, friends, this cast & creative team & D.G.R.W.! @michaelwordly Proverbs 3;5-6

Director and Choreographer:  Todd Underwood

Musical Director:  Nygel D. Robinson

Stage Manager:  James Joseph Clark*

Scenic Designer:  Cully Long

Lighting Designer:  Marcus Abbott

Sound Designer:  Alan Piotrowicz

Costume Designer:  Elizabeth Saylor

* member of Actors Equity

The Color Purple: The Musical will be presented as a part of our Plays With Purpose series; shows intended for students to explore thematic messages in narrative formats, as well as be introduced to their professional live theater community. The Ivoryton Playhouse’s 2023 Season explores the topics of familial bonds, self-identity, and perseverance. The Plays With Purpose series is geared towards high school and college-level students who are discussing similar themes in literature. The Color Purple: The Musical is based on Alice Walker’s 1982 epistolary novel, with book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.

Event Info:
Performance begins at 10:00am on Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Private event–for educator groups only
Tickets cost $20 per student, with complimentary tickets for their teacher chaperones and bus drivers
Study guide will be disseminated at show, and a 30-minute talkback will follow the performance (subject to change) Contact to learn more and/or reserve tickets

Check back here for press releases, photos and video clips!

Up Next: Celie’s Story of Perseverance and Triumph

Ivoryton Playhouse Presents:   THE COLOR PURPLE

Lyrics and Music by Allee Willis, Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell, Book by Marsha Norman

Ivoryton Playhouse is thrilled to announce the upcoming production of the critically acclaimed musical The Color Purple, set to captivate audiences with its powerful storytelling and unforgettable music. The first public performance of this sensational production is scheduled for September 28, 2023.

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the Academy Award-nominated film, The Color Purple is a poignant and inspiring tale of resilience, hope, and the enduring power of love. Set against the backdrop of the American South in the early 20th century, the story follows the journey of Celie, a young African-American woman who finds her voice and strength through decades of struggle.

Performance Schedule:

  • Opening Night: September 28th, 2023
  • Show Dates: September 28th to October 15th, 2023
  • Performance Times: Wednesdays – 2 pm and 7:30 pm, Thursdays 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturdays – 8:00 pm,
    Sundays – 2 pm
  • Exclusive Student Matinee – Tuesday, October 10th at 10 am.

Designed and directed by a visionary team of seasoned professionals, Ivoryton Playhouse’s rendition of The Color Purple promises to be a transformative theatrical experience for any viewer, from seasoned theatre-goers to first-timers. Director Todd Underwood says, “The story of The Color Purple transcends generation, class, and race. This story of resilience can be universally understood and appreciated by all. Ivoryton audiences will be incredibly moved by it”.

Executive Director Jacqueline Hubbard adds, “The themes of The Color Purple fit perfectly in our Autumn show slot, a time of year that we’ve devoted to telling stories celebrating the strength of women and uplifting feminine voices. This story is powerful, positive, and potent! We want our audience to join us in celebration of the might and perseverance of the female spirit, with the most gorgeous and uplifting music.”

Ivoryton Playhouse’s The Color Purple stars Andrea Fleming* as ‘Celie’ and features returning Playhouse favorites Rae Janeil as ‘Squeak’ and Sheniqua Trotman* as ‘Sofia’. Renee Jackson* plays ‘Shug’, with Mairys Joaquin* as ‘Nettie’, Nina Laing as ‘Jarene’, Jeané La’Shelle Cummins as ‘Doris’, and Ne’Lashee* as ‘Darlene’’. Cedrick Ekra plays ‘Harpo’, with Christian McQueen* as ‘Mister’, Michael Charles as ‘Buster’, and Tony Perry* as ‘Ol’ Mister’. Rounding out this stellar cast is the ensemble which includes Michael Wordly*, Justin Sudderth, and Samantha Rae Bass*.

(*denotes an actor appearing in connection with Actors Equity Association.)

The Color Purple is directed by Todd Underwood, with Music Direction by Nygel D. Robinson. The design team features Cully Long as Set Designer, Elizabeth Saylor as Costume/Wig designer, Alan Piotrowicz as Sound Designer, Glenn Bassett as Props Designer, and Marcus Abbott as Lighting Designer.

Tickets are $60 for adults, $55 for seniors, and $25 for students. Tickets are available online at or by calling the box office at 860.767.7318. (For information on group rates, please call the box office.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

About Ivoryton Playhouse: Ivoryton Playhouse is a renowned small professional theatre in South Central Connecticut. It has been a beacon of creativity, culture, and intimate theatrical engagement for many years. The theatre is committed to presenting exceptional productions and creating unforgettable experiences for audiences of all ages.

For more information, interviews, and press inquiries, please contact:
Ben Hope, Executive Producer – 321.303.0110

For press tickets, please contact:
Susan McCann –

Looking for something to do? Ivoryton Playhouse was voted best place to see live theatre in 2022 by readers of Shore Publishing Newspapers. Come to Essex and visit our historic, professional theatre – a Connecticut treasure!

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Did You

The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2010 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. In 2003, the book was listed on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's "best-loved novels."