Black Actors Scarce for Purlie Premiere???
Date: 29 April 2004
Two years ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber ran into problems when trying to recast the his Bollywood-inspired, West End musical Bombay Dreams. He turned to India when it looked like their simply weren’t enough suitably skilled British-Asian performers to fill the 42-strong company (See The Goss, 21 Oct 2002). We’re now hearing reports about a similar problem being faced, albeit on a much smaller scale, at the Bridewell Theatre, which is currently trying to cast its new production of Purlie, the 1971 Broadway hit about racial segregation in the American South. But is it really a shortage of talent or a glitch in the casting process? The gospel musical comedy has a cast of 12, only two of whom are white. According to a Bridewell spokesperson, “Getting black actors (and most importantly their agents) to send submissions in, is almost impossible. Even though the casting breakdown clearly states that we are looking for black actresses, agents are still sending us white folk.” Let’s hope they sort it out in time for the European premiere at the Bridewell, where Purlie runs from 2 September to 2 October 2004.
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