Birmingham Hippodrome and Leicester’s Curve theatres joined forces to co-produce the Broadway musical The Color Purple in an annoucement made last August.

The production, the first to be created outside of London in the UK, will run at Birmingham Hippodrome from the 16th to the 21st of July 2019. However one of the announced cast, Seyi Omooba, will no longer be part of the production following social media comments resurfacing years after they were posted.

In a statement issued to ATV Today, the theatre said:

“On Friday 15 March a social media post dating from 2014, which was written by the The Color Purple cast member Seyi Omooba, was re-posted on Twitter. The comments made by Seyi in that post have caused significant and widely expressed concerns both on social media and in the wider press. Following careful reflection it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production. This decision was supported by the Authors and Theatrical Rights Worldwide.”

LGBT site PinkNews report the actress stated on Facebook in 2014 that ‘homosexuality isn’t right’. Hamilton star Aaron Lee shared a screenshot on Twitter PinkNews note, with the actor adding he felt ‘she owed an explanation to the LGBT+ community’. Seyi’s character in The Color Purple is gay.

“The audition process, as ever, was conducted professionally and rigorously, led by an exceptional casting director with actors who are evaluated on what they present in the audition room. We do not operate a social media screening process in the casting of actors. No further comment will be made at this time.” – statement from the production team of The Colour Purple

The Color Purple will be directed by Tinuke Craig, winner of the 2014 Genesis Future Directors Award. Tinuke’s recent credits include random/generations, a double bill of plays by debbie tucker green at Chichester Festival Theatre and I Call my Brothers by Jonas Hassen Khemiri at the Gate Theatre. The announcement of the production was made in August 2018 as both theatres celebrated significant milestones, with Curve celebrating it’s first decade of productions while the Hippodrome will mark its 120th birthday this year.

“The Color Purple celebrates remarkable women, telling incredible stories. From its Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, her courageous creation in heroine Celie to Oprah Winfrey – who had the vision to make the story into a smash-hit Broadway musical. And we are thrilled to introduce our equally astonishing director Tinuke Craig and welcome her to Curve.” – Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford, speaking in August 2018

The story is told over the course of 40 years and follows courageous heroine Celie, as she journeys through joy, despair, anguish and hope in her own personal awakening to discover her unique voice in the world. With a profoundly evocative score drawing inspiration from jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, this moving family chronicle set in racially divided southern America, celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.

The Birmingham Hippodrome is best known to television audiences for its starring role in ITV’s 1980s talent show New Faces, which transmitted live from the venue to millions of viewers. The Hippodrome years were hosted by former New Faces winner, the late Marti Caine. Marti won the show, when it was produced by ATV Network at its Birmingham Studios, in 1975.

“This is the very first time that Birmingham Hippodrome has actively co-produced a main stage musical, and we could not have better partners than Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster at Curve theatre, and director Tinuke Craig. The Color Purple is an epic and timeless story that will appeal to audiences young and old, as evidenced by the recent Tony Award-winning Broadway production. It is long overdue for a UK tour, and I’m proud that the Hippodrome play our part in bringing it to life here in Birmingham.” – Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Birmingham Hippodrome, speaking in August 2018

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