The character that inspired Chédra Arielle to pursue a career in theatre is who she’s playing in her first national tour.
As a young girl, Sofia made an impression on Arielle as a powerful woman and feels as if her destiny is being fulfilled by portraying her in ‘The Color Purple.’ On February 14 & 15 the revival of ‘The Color Purple’ will be at the Schuster Center.
Based on Alice Walkers Pulitzer Prize winning novel and the 1985 film, ‘The Color Purple,’ the musical was adapted to the stage by Tony and Pulitzer winning Marsha Norman with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. ‘The Color Purple’ went on to win two Tony Awards in 2016, including Best Revival of a Musical.
At the age of 10 is when Arielle was first introduced to Sofia, when she watched the movie. The role was played in the film by Oprah Winfrey. From that moment and the countless repeat viewings, a dream was sparked in Arielle to someday portray Sofia. “After living in L.A and going to audition after audition to have this by my first part, and for it to have such meaning, is evidence of God listening to my prayers.”
A fan of ‘American Idol,’ Arielle traveled with her mother from Georgia to New York after hearing the news that season three winner, Fantasia Barrino was starring in ‘The Color Purple’ on Broadway. Arielle’s love for the show deepened even further. Then the opportunity for her to participate arose when her high school performed it. However, Arielle’s anxiety won over and she backed out from auditioning.
Rather than being center stage, Arielle served as props manager. The experience still made a big impact on her life. “From watching in the darkness of the wings, I knew I had to pursue my dream and be on stage,” said Arielle. “For Sofia to now be my first big part is really a blessing.”
The fondness for having a good time, is a trait that Arielle shares with Sofia and brings to the stage each night. “I enjoy that she’s powerful, loud, funny, and doesn’t take anything from anybody. I have lots of fun laughing with her, and the audience does too,” she said.
Arielle is anxious for theatergoers to experience the wide range of emotions that ‘The Color Purple’ delivers. The story forever changed her life and aspires to touch all who see it. “The audience gets to travel with us on a beautiful journey. They will laugh and some will cry. I can’t wait for everyone to see it,” said Arielle.
‘The Color Purple’ is at the Schuster Center on February 14 & 15.
Photo credits: Chédra Arielle, Brandon A. Wright, THE COLOR PURPLE © JEREMY DANIE