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The Color Purple

Alice Walker’s novel “The Color Purple” won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction when it was released in 1983. Steven Spielberg’s film version in 1985 was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. In 2005, a musical version of the story co-produced by Oprah Winfrey and Quincy Jones opened to great acclaim on Broadway, and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards. What’s the big deal about this story of abuse set in a racist south? Find out for yourself when the touring production of the musical comes to your city.

The story is one of horrible atrocities and triumph. It begins in 1930s Georgia, where the teenage Celie is raped and impregnated by a man she calls “Pa.” Her tale doesn’t get better from there, especially not when the abusive “Mister” Albert settles for her instead of her sister Nettie, whom he really desires. After being forced raise Mister’s children from another woman for him, Celie gradually comes to terms with who she is, thanks largely to her relationship with Mister’s ex, Shug Avery. We recently sat down with the actor who plays Mister, Rufus Bonds, Jr., to learn more about the show.

What is your favorite color?

[Laughs] I don’t have a favorite one—I like all colors.

Have you read the novel?

Yes, years ago when it first came out, and then when I got the role I read it again to research the character. I didn’t use the movie for guidance—only the book because it has all the info you need in terms what Mister says about himself and what others say about him.

What do you think is the most controversial element of the story?

Probably the love between Celie and Shug. I’ll leave it at that.

What’s your favorite song in the show?

“Too Beautiful for Words,” which is sung by Shug. The way the lyrics and melody work, it’s just beautiful.

You played Mufasa in “The Lion King” -- have you officially sworn off ever wearing headgear again?

No, actually, the headpiece was light. What was challenging was the 25-pound battery pack on my back that made the mask move.

What’s the toughest part of being on the road for 2 ½ years?

Being away from my family and leaving home. I try to see them at least every month, and then for holidays.

What are you looking forward to the most in Miami?

Enjoying the water and the heat. I’m in Schenectady, New York, right now and can’t wait to be there.