Prince: Jennifer Hudson's The Color Purple tribute
Purple on purple has never been so beautiful.
In celebration of the life and musical legacy of Prince, who died at age 57 on Thursday, the Broadway cast of The Color Purple honored the late artist with a truly stunning rendition of Prince’s iconic song “Purple Rain.”
Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, who made her Broadway debut in December in the role of Shug Avery, and stateside newcomer Cynthia Erivo, who stars as Celie, led the soaring tribute, which occurred relatively spontaneously after the Thursday evening performance of the show at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
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Watch the performance below, which understandably spurred the whole crowd to sing along:
Two things are important to note: First, meet Cynthia Erivo, this year’s frontrunner to win a Tony Award for her performance as Celie in the musical version of the Alice Walker classic. (If you love her “Purple Rain,” you may be paralyzed with awe from her show-stopping “I’m Here,” which regularly gets a standing ovation in the middle of the show every night.)
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Second, Hudson appears to go neatly off the grid when the song ramps up in its second half. Though the cast likely rehearsed the tune briefly, she displays a certain gravity and command of the stage that, frankly, may be one of her most honest performances to date.
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This isn’t the first time a Broadway show has recently surprised (and included) its audience with an impromptu tribute performance to a fallen legend. The cast of Disney’s Aladdin memorably honored Robin Williams with a touching homage — led by the Genie, James Monroe Iglehart — on the night of Williams’ death in 2014.