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Leslie Odom Jr.’s Broadway Return in Purlie Victorious


Leslie Odom Jr. didn’t intend to spend seven years away from Broadway. Back in 2016, after he wrapped his run in Hamilton — and after his turn as Aaron Burr landed him a Tony, a Grammy, and worldwide recognition — he was already thinking about his next role. “Purlie Victorious was the first thing my subconscious brought to mind,” he said. Ossie Davis’s 1961 play, a satirical romp set in the Jim Crow South, had been put into Odom’s hands when he was coming up as an actor, and over the years he had turned to it for audition monologues and scene studies. He wanted to get the play back onstage, and he wanted to play the title character: a freewheeling preacher, originally played by Davis, who works out a scheme to reclaim a local church from a white landowner. His plans blow up in his face, and he keeps on plotting. He is, per Davis’s script, a “man consumed with that divine impatience, without which nothing truly good, truly bad, or even truly ridiculous, is ever accomplished in the world.”

But getting the play back to Broadway decades after its premiere would take patience. Although it isn’t as widely performed today, Purlie Victorious was significant in its time...READ MORE


Author: Jackson McHenry


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