Kyle Scatliffe of 'The Color Purple' on what the story can teach men

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Kyle Scatliffe attends 'The Color Purple' Broadway Cast Photo Call at Intercontinental Hotel on November 20, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Raymond Hagans/Steed Media Service
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Kyle Scatliffe attends 'The Color Purple' Broadway Cast Photo Call at Intercontinental Hotel on November 20, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Raymond Hagans/Steed Media Service

 

Actor Kyle Scatliffe is starring as the conflicted Harpo in the latest revival of The Color Purple on Broadway. The acclaimed actor shared his thoughts on Harpo, the story and why he thinks those who criticize The Color Purple are ultimately missing the point.

On finding relatability in Harpo: "He's trying to understand what life is and who he is. It's a journey I'm still on--I'm 29, and it's a journey to figure out who you are and where you fit in the world. I think that's a basic journey we all go through and a lot of people can see that and experience that."

On Harpo's worldview: "I also love his being with Sofia [Danielle Brooks] and he's trying to have this happily ever after that he thinks exists. And he's trying to have it in the way that he doesn't know how to make it happen--he's flying by the seat of his pants and it all kind of crumbles but it comes back."

On criticism of the misogyny in the story: "I think what [detractors] are missing is the basic experience of trying to figure out who we are. The story teaches us--as men, honestly--how to treat each other and how to treat other people. I think a big thing about it is just respect. There's a lot of respect and love and forgiveness. I think people can learn from seeing this. I know that there can be criticism and [people] say it's misogynist, but I don't feel that when I step on stage or read the book. I just felt that there were people who'd been through these experiences. The men in this story came from slavery...and they're doing what happened to them. They're governing the world of women the same way that the slave master governed them. They're not just being who they are because they're men, they're who they are because they've learned it."

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Talk show queen Wendy Williams makes Broadway debut in 'Chicago'

Talk show queen and best-selling author Wendy Williams began her Broadway debut engagement as Matron "Mama" Morton in the Tony Award-winning revival of the musical Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre. Williams' engagement runs through August 11.

Before the debut, Williams told Page Six that she memorized the words to her character's solo tune, “When You’re Good to Mama,” saying “I sing it in the shower." And that she had plan to hire a vocal coach so she could learn to “pace my voice so I don’t blow it out. I’ve never had laryngitis before in all my years in radio, so I want to be very careful to spare my instrument.”

Williams follows Queen Latifah and Chandra Wilson, tackling this role of this corrupt matron of the Cook County Jail in various movie and stage productions of Chicago.

 


‘Sistas: The Musical’ Shines a Light on Black Music and Black History

The story of a five women’s bond and a family’s history as shared through some of the most timeless music of the last 100 years, “Sistas” is the work of playwright Dorothy Marcic. Produced by three-time Tony winner, Hinton Battle and directed by Kenneth Ferronethe production became a sensation after a successful run at the Midtown International Theatre Festival.

The story centers on five women: sisters Gloria, Simone and Roberta, their white sister-in-law Heather and Simone’s daughter, Tamika; they discuss their family’s complex history. In preparation for the funeral of the family matriarch, they revisit the pleasure and pain in their mother’s history, their own childhoods and the complex relationships they have with each other today. Their stories are told through the popular music that provided their lives’ soundtrack. From Billie Holiday to Patti LaBelle, from The Supremes toKelis—the music and the performances of the five leads effectively convey the ups and downs of their African American womanhood. Youthful Tamika (Lexi Rhoades) sits and learns family history and life lessons from her mother, the pragmatic Simone (Badia Farha), as well as her aunts; Bible-thumping Gloria (Tracey Conyer Lee), the rebellious Roberta (Jennifer Fouche) and the well-meaning but naïve Heather (Amy Goldberger.)

Rhoades praises the production for its effective portrayal of black women via four very different personalities. “I think it’s very effective [because] they all exist,” she says. “We’re very careful not to do caricatures of those archetypes. It’s so important to bring the integrity of the black woman to each facet.”

For Badia Farha, who recently joined the cast as Simone after the departure of longtime cast member April Nixon, the play’s musical variety immediately caught her attention. “I walked past the theater one day casually and saw the flier up and read that the music hadMa Rainey and Bessie Smith, Beyonce and Alicia Keys and [I said] ‘What is this?’ It sounded so interesting. I [knew] that was a show I’d love to do. The music really drew me in.”

Fouche is the only original cast member currently still with the production. Her Roberta character is, in many ways the heart and soul of the story. “Women come up to me after seeing ‘Sistas’  and say, ‘I went through that or I know someone that went through that’ and they tell me, ‘Thank you because you did it honestly.’ It has to be real [because] that’s real for somebody. And in ‘Sistas,’ every one of these stories is real.”

“It’s an American story,” says Farha. “It’s a story about black Americans. I think the younger generation is lacking the [knowledge] of their heritage. This show pulls from it. You have the older sisters teaching the young one. This isn’t just the story of an African American family but African American families.” Rhoades echoes that sentiment. “I think everybody learned something from this show–every single actor.”

“There are very few majority black casts on Broadway,” Fouche shares. “That means something to me, as a black actor and as a woman. There’s something very spiritual about getting a group of women together.”


Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams star in 'The Trip to Bountiful' on Broadway

Legendary Emmy Award-winning actress Cicely Tyson has enjoyed the last 50 years delighting us with her remarkable talent. It's been 30 years since she appeared on a Broadway stage when she played Miss Moffat in "The Corn is Green" at the renowned Lunt-Fontaine Theatre. Back on a Braodway stage, she's starring in Horton Foote’s touching 1953 drama "The Trip to Bountiful," alongside Vanessa Williams, who plays her daughter-in-law. The play's revival makes history; it's the first time audiences will witness an all-black cast.

Tyson plays Mother Watts, an elderly woman who longs to return to her hometown of Bountiful, Texas. “For years I have been searching for the perfect project to bring me back to my true home – the stage,” Tyson tells press. “In many ways Broadway is my Bountiful and I’m eager and honored to return with this strong, passionate, and funny character in a timeless American classic.”

The cast also features Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. ("Jerry Maguire," "Red Tails"), Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams ("Ugly Betty," "Desperate Housewives") and Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad (Lifetime’s "Steel Magnolias," Broadway’s Stick Fly), the daughter of Phylicia Rashad.

Directed by Michael Wilson and produced by Nelle Nugent, the 14-week limited engagement will officially open April 23.

Check out Tyson's recent interview on CBS.