Fantasy Stars in the Oprah Winfrey Musical – Variety

Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg have teamed up to recreate “The Color Purple” in a musical.

After debuting to distributors at CinemaCon last month, Warner Bros. has released the movie. The first trailer for the new adaptation, directed by Blitz Bazawule, is set to premiere in North America on December 25th. The film will open internationally from January 18, 2024.

The trailer features visually bold motifs as it takes audiences inside Seely’s headspace with the “American Idol” fantasy winner reprising her role on Broadway. It also gives insight into the sisterhood of the women at the center of the story. It rises from grandeur, highlighting jaw-dropping tracks and production against the backdrop of Mister’s Farm.

The latest version stars Fantasia as Celie in her major motion picture debut, alongside Danielle Brooks as Sophia, who received a Tony nomination for her performance in the 2016 Broadway revival of Taraji P. Taylor as Mama.

The cast also includes Louis Gossett Jr. as First Mister, David Alan Greer as Reverend Avery, Ciara as Nettie, Dionne Cole as Alfonso, Felicia Pearl Mpassy as Young Seeley, Tamala J-Mann as First Lady, Stephen Hill in as Buster, as well as Jon Batiste as Grady and Elizabeth Marvel as Miss Millie.

In one scene, Shug Avery shows Celie how to apply lipstick. Winfrey revealed that the line was improvised and mirrored, “When you say, ‘Oh my god I’m alive. ‘” It was an ad-filled line coming out of that moment when you’re with your sister and you look at her in lipstick for the first time and you’re happy for her.”

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During the trailer’s launch event, Winfrey was asked about the need to retell the story of “The Color Purple” after nearly 40 years. Winfrey, who serves as a producer on the film, responded, “The reason this moment is important is because as long as there is a need for self-discovery, for self-empowerment, as long as there is a need for victory in someone’s life all the time, because there is a need for people to know what it feels like to be loved and fulfilled.” And to hold on to someone else’s love, “The Color Purple” will be needed.

With the film being released on Christmas Day, Winfrey and Bazaul hope the film’s message will bring healing. Winfrey recalled a conversation she had recently with Fantasia, saying, “The movie changed her because it allowed her forgiveness. She said, ‘People who come to this movie will be healed because I am healed.'”

Based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple focuses on Seeley, a black Southern woman in the early 20th century who was abused by her father and stepfather. Three years after the book was published, in 1985, Spielberg directed and produced a film adaptation starring Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Laurence Fishburne. The film received 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

In 2004, The Color Purple was made into a Tony-nominated musical written by playwright Marsha Norman with music and lyrics by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell, and Eli Willis. The critically acclaimed production received 11 Tony nominations. The 2016 revival earned four Tony nominations and scored two wins, including Best Musical Revival and Best Actress for Cynthia Erivo’s performance as Celie. (Brooks was nominated for an Actress in a Distinguished Role Award for her performance as Sophia.)

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Pazzoli (“Black Is King”) directed the film from a script by Marcus Gardley (“The Chi”). Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones also serve as producers. Writers Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristi Macosko-Krieger, Carla Gardini, Mara Jacobs, Adam Fell, Courtenay Valenti, Sheila Walcott, and Michael Page serve as executive producers.

Bazawule is joined behind the camera by Director of Photography Dan Lausten, Production Designer Paul Denham Austerbury and Editor John Paul. Choreographer Fatima Robinson (“Coming 2 America,” “Dreamgirls”) and costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck (“Emancipation,” “One Night in Miami”). Music supervisors are Jordan Carroll and Morgan Rhodes. Music is composed by Chris Powers. The Executive Music Producers are Nick Baxter, Bray and Pazzol.

Watch the trailer below.

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