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The Color Purple

AUGUST 3 – 9


Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Steven Spielberg’s landmark film, The Color Purple makes its Muny debut! Featuring a Grammy Award-winning score infused with jazz, ragtime, gospel and African blues, this moving tale is a testament to the healing power of love, faith, resilience and sisterhood. Winner of the 2016 Tony Award for “Best Revival of a Musical,” this epic staging promises a joyous evening of courage, hope and healing.

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Based upon the novel written by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment Motion Picture

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


Anastacia McCleskey



is excited to make her debut at The Muny. She recently starred in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (New York Times Critic’s pick, Barrington Stages), the world premiere of Afterwords the Musical (Jo, The 5th Avenue Theatre), Annie Live! (Sophie/Mrs. Greer/Perkins, NBC), Caroline, or Change (Dotty, Broadway Revival) and Waitress (Nurse Norma, Broadway). Recurring roles on New Amsterdam as Dr. Phylicia Elder (NBC) and The Good Fight as Opal (CBS). McCleskey has been featured in seven Broadway hits, one West End hit, several off-Broadway hits, tons of regional theatre and has sung with and provided back-up vocals for many artists. During the pandemic shutdown, she started a podcast with her brothers called Them 3 Podcast. McCleskey has been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, an Alliance Award and an Audelco Award.



Shug Avery

is beyond thrilled to be making her Muny debut! She was last seen starring as Carole in the NY City Center Encores! production of The Tap Dance Kid (director Kenny Leon). Prior to the world shutting down, you might have seen her in Broadway’s Frozen (Bulda). Other Broadway credits include Something Rotten!; Honeymoon in Vegas, Holler If Ya Hear Me, Memphis, The Wedding Singer, Good Vibrations and Hairspray. National tour: All Shook Up (Lorraine). Off-Broadway: Radiant Baby, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Pirates of Penzance. Film/TV: Bedlam: The Series; The Baker and the Beauty, God Friended Me, Rise, House of Cards, Law & Order: SVU; Spinning Into Butter and Camp.

Nasia Thomas



was most recently seen as Radio One in the Broadway revival of Caroline, or Change. She also recently played Cathy in a streamed version of The Last Five Years from Out of The Box Theatrics. Muny: Smokey Joe’s Café; Hairspray. Broadway: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations and Little Eva in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. National tour: Beautiful. Regional: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations (Berkeley Repertory, Kennedy Center, Center Theatre Group, Toronto’s Mirvish), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (TUTS). TV: The 4400 (Kenya). BFA in Musical Theatre from Elon ‘15, The Governor’s School for the Arts ‘11.

Evan Tyrone Martin



is excited to be making his Muny debut! Most recently, Evan was seen in Blues in the Night (Porchlight Music Theatre, opposite star, Felicia P. Fields). Other credits: Jim in Roundabout Theatre’s digital reading of Zora Neale-Hurston’s musical Spunk, directed by Lili-Anne Brown, Queer Eye: The Musical Parody (Karamo, The Second City), The Black Clown (Ensemble, A.R.T. /Lincoln Center’s 2019 Mostly Mozart Festival), Hair (Hud, Mercury Theater), Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus, BTAA nomination, Paramount Theatre), Dreamgirls (Curtis, BTAA nomination) and Far From Heaven (Raymond, Jeff nomination, Porchlight Music Theatre), Disney’s The Little Mermaid (King Triton, Arkansas Repertory). Evan has worked with Goodspeed Opera House, Steppenwolf Garage, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Florida Rep and many others. He also toured starring in the hit revues Unforgettable: Falling in Love with Nat King Cole and An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas.




is a Chicago-based actor. Some of his credits include Choir Boy (Steppenwolf Theatre), Choir Boy (Yale Repertory), The Color Purple (Drury Lane Theatre), The Total Bent (Haven Theatre), Memphis, Dreamgirls (Porchlight Music Theatre), Hairspray, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jesus Christ Superstar, Elf, Cabaret, Legally Blonde (Paramount Theatre), Madagascar (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Next to Normal (BoHo Theatre), Dessa Rose and The Wild Party (Bailiwick Chicago).




is an actor, writer, director and artist. Chicago: The Color Purple (Drury Lane), US premiere of Hopelessly Devoted (Piven Theatre), Caroline, or Change (Firebrand Theatre). Fiercely represented by Shirley Hamilton. Training at Steppenwolf (Acting Fellow 2014), Associate Artist with Black Lives, Black Words International Theatre Collective and Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit alumnae.

jade jones


Standby for Sofia

is a Helen Hayes nominee, performer, rapper and educator. Recently, Jade garnered international attention as Belle in Olney Theatre Center’s critically acclaimed production of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, featured in People Magazine and on MSNBC. Other theatrical credits include Cinco Paul and Bekah Brunstetter’s A.D. 16 (world premiere, directed by Stephen Brackett), The Amen Corner (Shakespeare Theatre Company), School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Round House Theatre) and Into the Woods (Ford’s Theatre). Television credits include Chicago P.D. (Stevie). Jade has performed for Michelle Obama and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and was most recently seen singing with Grammy winner Charlie Rosen and The 8-Bit Big Band at the legendary Howard Theatre in Washington, DC. Training: Ferrum College-BFA.

Rounding Out The Company

Rounding out the company are Jos N. Banks, Shantel Cribbs, Erica Durham, Duane Martin Foster, Damon J. Gillespie, Kennedy Holmes, Omega Jones, Sage Lee, Alicia Revé Like, Melanie Loren, Danea Osseni, Grant James Reynolds, Paris Porché Richardson, Amber Alexandria Rose, Alexis J. Roston, Owen Scales, Rodney Thompson and Sean Walton. The company will also be joined by the Muny youth ensemble.

Creative Team

Lili-Anne Brown -Photo credit is Joe Mazza @Bravelux

Lili-Anne Brown


is a Chicago South Side native, working as a director, actor and educator, and has directed, performed in and produced many award-winning shows in Chicago and nationally. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she focused programming on Chicago-premiere musicals and new play development with resident playwrights. Recent directing credits include: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play and the world premieres of Ike Holter’s I Hate It Here and Lottery Day (Goodman Theatre), Acoustic Rooster… (Kennedy Center), Spunk (Roundabout Theatre virtual), Wally World (Steppenwolf Theatre audio), Put Your House in Order (La Jolla Playhouse), The Color Purple (Drury Lane Theatre). She is a member of SDC, AEA, and SAG-AFTRA, a resident director of Victory Gardens Theater and represented by William Morris Endeavor. lilbrownchicago.com

BreonArzell_ChoreoHS (2)

Breon Arzell


His breakout and award-winning premiere as a choreographer came with a Chicago production of The Hairy Ape. A Detroit native, he has worked at various studios, schools, universities (DePaul, Northwestern and Roosevelt) and theatres. Regional/TV credits: Once on This Island (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Acoustic Rooster… (The Kennedy Center), Miss You Like Hell (Olney Theatre Center), The 4400 (CW), Empire (Fox). Chicago credits: Kill Move Paradise (TimeLine Theatre), The Color Purple (Drury Lane), Head Over Heels and The Wiz (Kokandy Productions), The Total Bent (Haven Theatre), The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens Theater), Marie Christine, Scottsboro Boys, Little Shop of Horrors and more. Dedicated teaching artist, critically acclaimed, and listed as one of the 50 Players for Chicago 2018 and 2020, he has worked/toured the U.S., England, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Singapore. Currently, along with developing original works, he is working on the restoration and revival of a historical black musical. Hip-Hop, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, Contemporary and Body Percussion.breonarzell.com

Jermaine Hill Headshot

Jermaine Hill

Music Director

is an award-winning music director, pianist, conductor and vocal coach. Recent credits include Spunk (Roundabout Theatre’s Refocus Project), We Are Out There, Nell Gwynn and Madagascar (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies (Porchlight Music Theatre), The Music Man (Goodman Theatre), The Color Purple (Drury Lane), Too Heavy for Your Pocket (TimeLine Theatre) and The Total Bent (Haven Theatre). As an actor, he has worked with Erasing the Distance and was a guest star on Chicago Med. He is currently the Assistant Chair of the Theater Division at Boston Conservatory at Berklee and maintains a small roster of private voice students, including Tony Award and Grammy Award winner Heather Headley. He is a proud graduate of Ithaca College and the New England Conservatory of Music.