Broadway Theatre, (3/15/1970 - 12/15/1970)
Winter Garden Theatre, (12/16/1970 - 3/13/1971)
ANTA Playhouse, (3/15/1971 - 11/06/1971)

Opening Date: Mar 15, 1970
Closing Date: Nov 06, 1971
Total Previews: 28
Total Performances: 688

Category: Musical, Comedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: South Georgia. Not too long ago.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization

Produced by Philip Rose

Music by Gary Geld; Lyrics by Peter Udell; Book by Ossie Davis, Peter Udell and Philip Rose; Based on "Purlie Victorious" by Ossie Davis; Music orchestrated by Garry Sherman and Luther Henderson; Choral arrangements by Luther Henderson and Garry Sherman; Dance arrangements by Luther Henderson; Additional arrangements by Ray Wright

Directed by Philip Rose; Choreographed by Louis Johnson

Scenic Design by Ben Edwards; Lighting Design by Thomas Skelton; Costume Design by Ann Roth; Hair Design by Ernest Adler; Sound Design by Robert Liftin

General Manager: Helen Stern Richards

Production Stage Manager: Leonard Auerbach; Stage Manager: Mortimer Halpern

Musical Supervisor: Garry Sherman; Conducted by Joyce Brown; Music Contractor: Gary Chester

Press Representative: Merle Debuskey and Faith Geer; Dance Captain: Harold Pierson; Casting: Lynda Watson; Advertising: Blaine-Thompson and Ingram Ash

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Opening Night Cast

John HeffernanOl' Cap'n
Cleavon LittlePurlie
Melba MooreLutiebelle
C. David ColsonCharlie
Sherman HemsleyGitlow
Linda HopkinsChurch Soloist
Helen MartinIdella
Novella NelsonMissy
Loretta AbbottDancer
Carolyn ByrdSinger
Barbara ChristopherSinger
Hope ClarkDancer
Peter CollySinger
Morris DonaldsonDancer
Denise ElliottSinger
George FaisonDancer
Judy GibsonDancer
Milt GraysonSinger
Lavinia HamiltonDancer
Synthia JacksonSinger
Mildred LaneSinger
Tony MiddletonSinger
Al PerrymanDancer
Harold PiersonDancer
Ray PollardSinger
Mildred PratcherSinger
Arlene RolandDancer
William TaylorDancer
Ella ThompsonDancer
Larry VickersDancer
Alyce WebbSinger
Myrna WhiteDancer

Understudies: Ted Goodridge (Swing Dancer), Linda Hopkins (Missy), Robert Jackson (Purlie), Synthia Jackson (Lutiebelle), Mildred Lane (Church Soloist), Ted Ross (Gitlow), Alyce Webb (Idella, Missy) and Curt Williams (Charlie, Ol' Cap'n)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1970 Best Musical [nominee] 

Book by Ossie Davis, Peter Udell and Philip Rose; Music by Gary Geld; Lyrics by Peter Udell; Produced by Philip Rose

winner 1970 Best Actor in a Musical [winner] 

Cleavon Little

winner 1970 Best Featured Actress in a Musical [winner] 

Melba Moore

 1970 Best Choreography [nominee] 

Louis Johnson

 1970 Best Direction of a Musical [nominee] 

Philip Rose

Drama Desk Award

winner 1970 Outstanding Performance [winner] 

Melba Moore and Cleavon Little

Theatre World

winner 1970 Award [recipient] 

Melba Moore


music by Gary Geld; lyrics by Peter Udell

ACT 1 Sung By
Walk Him Up the StairsCompany
New Fangled Preacher ManPurlie
Skinnin' a CatGitlow and Field Hands
The Harder They FallPurlie and Lutiebelle
Charlie's Songs: The Barrels of War/The Unborn LoveCharlie
Big Fish, Little FishOl' Cap'n and Charlie
I Got LoveLutiebelle
Great White FatherCotton Pickers
Skinnin' a CatGitlow and Charlie
Down HomePurlie and Missy
ACT 2 Sung By
First Thing Monday Mornin'Cotton Pickers
He Can Do It Missy and Lutiebelle
The Harder They Fall (Reprise) Gitlow, Lutiebelle and Missy
The World Is Comin' to a StartCharlie and Company
Walk Him Up the Stairs (Reprise) Company

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Broadway Theatre

(3/15/1970 - 12/15/1970)

Assistant Stage Mgr: Jerry Laws.


Deborah Allen
Broadway debut
Vera Moore

Understudy: Morgan Freeman (Purlie).

Winter Garden Theatre

(12/16/1970 - 3/13/1971)

ANTA Playhouse

(3/15/1971 - 11/6/1971)


Robert Guillaume
Patti Jo
Carol Jean Lewis

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