Broadway.com has learned that Blair Underwood, Anika Noni Rose, Lillias White, John Cullum and Doug E. Doug will star in the Encores! presentation of Purlie. The staging, directed by Sheldon Epps, is scheduled to run at City Center from March 31 through April 3.
"I am really looking forward to it," Rose told Broadway.com. "I've never seen Purlie, but ever since my first professional show, I've had friends telling me that they would love to see me in it. So, it's a gas to actually be doing it."
Ken Mandelbaum first reported Underwood and Rose for Purlie on February 14. Underwood appeared off-Broadway in Measure for Measure at the 1993 New York Shakespeare Festival. His other theatrical credits include El Negro en Peru, The Game of Love and Chance and Love Letters. He also toured in a one-man show IM4: From the Mountaintop to Hip Hop, about a rap mogul who gets gunned down. Underwood rose to fame in the 1980s playing a brash attorney on L.A. Law. His subsequent small screen credits include High Incident, City of Angels, Fatherhood, Sex and the City and this season's short-lived LAX. His film credits include Malibu's Most Wanted, Full Frontal, Rules of Engagement, Deep Impact, Just Cause, Gattaca, Posse, Set It Off and How Did It Feel?.
White won a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance in The Life in 1997. Her other Broadway credits include Barnum, Dreamgirls, Cats, Carrie, Once on This Island and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She starred in Crowns off-Broadway and the world premiere of Cy Coleman's Like Jazz at the Mark Taper Forum.
Rose is a big fan of White's and has never worked with her in the past. “I am so tickled to get a chance to work with Lillias White,” she said. “I think she is a great talent, both as a singer and a really strong actor.”
Cullum is a two-time Tony winner for his performances in Shenandoah in 1975 and On the Twentieth Century in 1978. He was also Tony-nominated for his work in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever in 1966 and most recently for his performance as Caldwell B. Cladwell in Urinetown. His other theatrical credits include Boys in Autumn, Hamlet, 1776, All My Sons, Show Boat, Old Money, Mr. Peters' Connections, Rose's Dilemma, Wilder, Sin: A Cardinal Deposed and The Dresser.
Doug began his career as a comedian before graduating to acting. He made his film debut in Mo' Better Blues in 1990. Three years later he got his first major starring role in a motion picture, pushcart operator turned bobsled racer Sanka Coffie in Cool Runnings. His other film credits include Operation Dumbo Drop, That Darn Cat, Everything's Jake, Eight Legged Freaks and Shark Tale for which he provided the voice of Bernie the jellyfish. Doug spent four seasons appearing as Griffin Vesey in the television series Cosby.
Purlie features music by Gary Geld, lyrics Peter Udell and a book by Udell, Ossie Davis and Philip RoseBased on Davis' 1961 play, Purlie Victorious, the musical version tells the story of Cap'n Cothcipee, who owned everyone in town where slavery and racism were rife. A young idealistic preacher named Purlie Victorious Underwood decides to bring freedom to the townsfolk by inventing an elaborate, ingenious and hilarious scheme to reclaim the people's rights.