National Black Theatre (NBT), under the leadership of CEO Sade Lythcott and executive artistic director Jonathan McCrory, will co-produce the first Broadway revival of Ossie Davis’ “Purlie Victorious.” The play originally bowed on Broadway in 1961, starring Davis and Ruby Dee. NBT returns to produce on the Main Stem following last season’s “Fat Ham,” which marked the company’s first production to transfer to Broadway.
Lythcott called this revival a homecoming for NBT. “With our commitment to civic and social justice, NBT’s founder, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, collaborated with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee — theatrical icons on the frontlines of justice work — to tell unapologetically Black stories like ‘Purlie Victorious,’” Lythcott explained in a statement. “While involved in the original production and film adaptation, Dr. Teer forged relationships where she found camaraderie, community and love.”
“We are thrilled to extend the indelible legacy of Ossie, Ruby and Dr. Teer by reviving the seminal, satirical text,” Lythcott continued. “Over 60 years later, ‘Purlie Victorious’ lends an unflinching eye on the truth of our times.”
Producers Jeffrey Richards and Irene Gandy said in a joint statement, “We are delighted to welcome the venerated National Black Theatre, under the leadership of Sade Lythcott and Jonathan McCrory, to the producing team of ‘Purlie Victorious.’ Their participation and input into the production seems especially appropriate, since both the play (1961) and National Black Theatre (1968), one of the longest-running Black institutions devoted to exploring all facets of Black theater, both emerged in the 1960s, during a period of intense social upheaval and cultural reexamination.”
“Purlie Victorious” tells the story of a Black preacher’s scheme to reclaim his inheritance and win back his church. The previously announced production will begin previews on Sept. 7 and open on Sept. 27 at the Music Box Theatre. Directed by Kenny Leon, the comedy will star Leslie Odom, Jr. as Purlie Victorious Judson. See the full cast here.
“Purlie Victorious” is being produced by Richards, Hunter Arnold, Gandy, Willette and Manny Klausner, Kayla Greenspan and Odom, Jr.