Friday, November 12, 2010

On Broadway

I was all set to blog about Getting to Happy, but a conversation with @BrooklynLinda on Twitter inspired me to write about Broadway instead.  I listen to Slacker Radio during the work day and I've Got Love from the musical Purlie came on.  That led me to wonder if I could find it on DVD.

For those not in the know, the musical Purlie is actually based on a play written by Ossie Davis in 1961. It's the story of a traveling preacher, Purlie Victorious, who comes back to his small hometown in Georgia to save a church and break the hold Ol' Cap'n Cotchipee has over the sharecroppers.  Along the way he falls in love with Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins.  By the way, that is absolutely my favorite name in the world.  Nothing defines country like Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins!

In the original play, Ossie Davis played Purlie and Ruby Dee played Lutiebelle.  Quite appropriate, huh?  When it hit Broadway in 1970 Cleavon Little took on the role of Purlie to Melba Moore's Lutiebelle.  Eventually Purlie made it to TV with Robert Guillaume (Benson) as Purlie, Melba Moore as Lutiebelle and Sherman Hemsley as Gitlow.  I LOVED Gitlow.  There was something about seeing Hemsley in a role as someone other than George Jefferson that just did my 11 year old heart good.

I've added the Ossie Davis/Ruby Dee version of Purlie to my wish list, but I just can't bring myself to buy it.  I'm holding out for a reasonably priced Robert Guillaume/Melba Moore/Sherman Hemsley version.  Apparently someone else values it as much as I do because the cheapest I've found it online is $ 197.

Talking about all of the musicals I enjoyed as a kid reminded me of The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin' (Nell Carter) and Sophisticated Ladies (Phyllis Hyman), along with a host of others.  PBS used to capture these performances and broadcast them, otherwise there's no way I would have been able to see these spectacular Broadway performances.  I've added clips from each to give you a hint of what you've been missing.

I've Got Love from Purlie

Ain't Misbehavin'

 Sophisticated Ladies


Those are just a few of my faves.  What's on your list?

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