Cutting it up with the ladies of 'Purlie Victorious' - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Monday, January 8, 2024

Cutting it up with the ladies of 'Purlie Victorious'

Cutting it up with the ladies of 

'Purlie Victorious'

: Kara Young, Heather Alicia Simms, and Vanessa Bell Calloway

I agree with the New York Times reviewer Jesse Green when he said that "Ossie Daviss 1961 play is no period piece, as a blazing and hilarious revival starring Leslie Odom Jr. testifies." Facts.

Daviss play follows Purlie Victorious Judson, an African American self-made traveling preacher who returns to his segregated Georgia hometown with a mission to buy and rehab its derelict church, Big Bethel. As a man of color, that's a tall order. The church, like the town, is in the grip of racist tyrant Ol' Cap'n Cotchipee. Directed by Kenny Leon, he keeps his cast moving at a warp-speed pace.

Purlie (Leslie Odom Jr.) has a plan to get back the $500 left to his Aunt Henrietta by the white woman she worked for but it has not come into his hands. Instead, with Henrietta and her daughter, Cousin Bee, both deceased, the money is still being held by the racist OlCapn Cotchipee, the owner of the cotton plantation where Purlie, and his brother, Gitlow (Billy Eugene Jones) live. That amount is no money for OlCapn (Jay O. Sanders) but it could change Purlie's life. To get the money, he recruits a stranger named Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins (Kara Young) to pretend to be the college-educated Bee to claim the money. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

The role was originally played by Ruby Dee, and Karas Lutiebelle is a sweet and very much a country girl. Young, a two-time Tony nominee known mostly for dramatic roles (Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven,” “The New Englanders,” “All the Natalie Portmans”), shows her comedic side here.

But its the women that are the backbone of Purlie Victorious that includes Young, Heather Alicia Simms (Missy Judson), and Vanessa Bell Calloway (Idella Landy).

Kara Youngs Broadway credits include "Cost of Living" (Tony nomination), "Clydes" (Tony, Drama Desk nominations). Off-Broadway: "Twelfth Night" (Obie Award), "All the Natalie Portmans" (Lucille Lortel nomination), "Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven," "The New Englanders," "Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Rolld," "Syncing Ink," and "Pretty Hunger." Kara can currently be seen in Amazons Im a Virgo.” Other film/TV includes HBO Maxs The Staircase,” HBOs Random Acts of Flyness,” and Netflixs The Punisher.”

Heather Alicia Simms (Missy Judson) Broadway credits include: "Ma Raineys Black Bottom," "A Raisin in the Sun," "Gem of the Ocean," "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." Off-Broadway: "Des Moines," "Fairview," "Fabulation," "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark" (Obie Award), "Richard III," "Barbecue," "born bad." Television: 1266” (pilot), Swarm,” “The Kings of Napa,” “Single Drunk Female,” “Marvels Luke Cage,” “The Last O.G.,” “Law & Order.” Film: "Red Hook Summer," "The Nanny Diaries," "Broken Flowers." Columbia University, MFA. For my family.

Vanessa Bell Calloway (Idella Landy). Her credits include an eight-time NAACP Image Award nominee; her theatre credits include the original Broadway production of "Dreamgirls," "Seven Guitars," "The August Wilson 20th Century Festival at The Kennedy Center," "The Piano Lesson," "Crowns," and NAACP Theatre Award Best Actress winner for "Letter From Zora." Vanessa stars in The Black Hamptons” (BET) and The Vince Staples Show” (Netflix). Feature films include Harriet,” “The Devil You Know,” “Whats Love Got to Do With It,” and Coming to America.” She directed "Black Girl Erupted" (BETHER).

Click here to listen to the full interview with Kara Young, Heather Alicia Simms, and Vanessa Bell Calloway.

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