Theatre News

David Babani: 'British critics were less than generous to The Color Purple '

Artistic director of the Menier Chocolate Factory has expressed his joy at ”The Color Purple” winning at the Tony Awards

Cynthia Erivo as Celie in The Color Purple
Cynthia Erivo as Celie in The Color Purple
© Matthew Murphy

Artistic director David Babani has expressed his disappointment at the way British critics reacted to The Color Purple when it opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013.

The Color Purple won two awards at the Tonys last night, taking home Best Actress in a Musical for Cynthia Erivo and Best Musical Revival.

In a statement, Babani said: "It was sad to us that the British critics were less than generous towards the production." He also expressed disappointment at the fact that the show was unable to transfer to the West End due to alternative commitments from Erivo.

Babani said he was 'thrilled' that the Menier Chocolate Factory had been recognised at the Tonys for a second time. He listed his thanks to his co-producers, including actor Kelsey Grammer who helped bring the show to Broadway.

The full statement from Babani is below:
"On behalf of the Menier Chocolate Factory I couldn't be more thrilled.
For the second time we have been honoured with both a best musical revival Tony award and Tony award for Best Actress (Cynthia Erivo) for one of our shows.

The Color Purple – The Musical is such a special show to me. When we originated this production at the Chocolate Factory and gave Cynthia the opportunity to originate her first major leading role in a musical the audiences were incredible! It felt almost church like in our small auditorium. I have genuinely never seen reactions from an audience like that. Ever. Cynthia stopped the show every night with her amazing rendition of "I'm Here".

"It was sad to us that the British critics were less than generous towards the production and that Cynthia who was clearly delivering a very special performance had already been contracted for another show after we closed which made her unavailable for any sort of transfer. We just couldn’t ignore the incredible houses and wonderful response that our production got every evening so we worked tirelessly with our co-producers to explore bringing our production and Cynthia back to Broadway. I guess based on tonight's evidence it really was a dream come true.

"I would like to thank my incredible team at the Chocolate Factory because without them there would have been no production in the first place and they sweated blood and tears to make this show happen, they are Tom Siracusa, Lucy McNally, Jason Maddocks and Amanda Holland. The Chocolate Factory also raised a third of all the money needed to bring this production back to Broadway and we couldn’t have done that without our fearless co-producing partners who believed against all the odds that the Chocolate Factory could triumph on Broadway again. They are Darren Bagert, Steve Traxler of Jam Theatricals, Adam Blanshay, Tanya Link, Jan Kalish and Kelsey Grammer. Yep… Kelsey Grammer!

"Lastly we would be nothing without our esteemed director John Doyle and the authors of this wonderful show: Marsha Norman, Stephen Bray, Allee Willis and Brenda Russell. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!"

The Tony Awards took place on 12 June. Read our news story and list of the winners here.