Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16



True Colors: A Talk with Michelle Williams and Jeanette Bayardelle
by Amy Matheny

This article shared 3593 times since Sun Apr 1, 2007
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

The producing team of The Color Purple brings the musical nominated for 11 Tony Awards to Oprah's hometown, Chicago, at the beautiful Cadillac Palace Theatre. The Color Purple took Broadway by storm—hailed by critics as 'roof-raising' 'epic' and 'a Broadway hit!' I saw it on Broadway and it is the Must See show of the year! Headlining the Chicago company as Celie is Jeannette Bayardelle who comes directly from the Broadway production, and Michelle Williams, former member of Destiny's Child, as the gal everyone loves—Shug Avery.

Amy Matheny: What do you miss about Destiny's Child?

Michelle Williams: Just the three of us always being together. You know, it's weird—them not being here. But you meet so many other wonderful people who become your sisters. It's like God always has you in different arenas. Some people have the same two people their whole life, but now we can branch out.

AM: I never thought about this until you just said that, but there's also a triumvirate of three women in this show: Celie, Shug and Sophia.

You recently performed on Broadway in Aida. What is the difference performing in concert and performing in a Broadway show?

MW: Well, I'm trying to get out of the 'whole performing as you're in concert' thing on the Broadway stage, because it's different. You just can't bust out into song in Broadway theater. It has to flow from dialogue. And you can't forget your words on Broadway. Now if you were performing in concert, you could put your mic out at the audience and say, 'Sing' and catch your breath.

AM: What makes the musical, The Color Purple, so successful?

Jeannette Bayardelle: The story itself is universal. And everyone can relate to it—doesn't matter what color you are, what religion you are. Everyone can find a piece of them [ selves ] in that story. And that alone carries it.

AM: What do people say to you when you walk out the stage door?

JB: [ They say ] 'I feel changed. I feel like I can accomplish anything. I want to reconcile with a loved one that I stopped speaking to. I've gained courage to get out of an abusive relationship.' So many different things.

AM: Both of you have a gospel background and I think the point of gospel music … is transformation and connection, connection to something higher and bigger than us, you know. [ And ] that's truly the theme, the message and journey of this play. Do you bring your [ gospel ] roots to this show?

JB: I think so. Like you said … it's [ transformation ] in the work, and it's what we do through our music. We want to bring the love of God to people. And I believe that this show does that—the love of God and the faith in God and hope.

AM: When Celie she sings, 'God is inside me, in everything,' it's such a beautiful message. What impact did the film have on you?

JB: I've watched the film over a hundred times. Unfortunately, I can't really watch it anymore because I'm in it, and it kinda just messes you up. But it was my favorite movie …and I can still quote every line in this show and every line in that movie.

AM: In the musical The Color Purple, Shug and Celie are given focus in a way that the Spielberg Oscar-nominated movie underplayed. The musical acknowledges the full relationship of Celie and Shug as lovers, and as very significant women to each other. Alice Walker has said that that was very important to her. Michelle, who is Shug and what does she see in Celie?

MW: Shug is just this feisty woman who is known to speak her mind a lot. I really think she was misunderstood by a lot of people and by the whole town. Once you really get to know her, really know why she is the way she is, you're like, 'Oh okay, she's not so bad after all.' I mean I could take a few lessons from Shug. Shug acts out sometimes because of things that she lacked growing up, [ and not ] being accepted for who she was by her father. Her father was a preacher. So I can imagine, growing up, [ there was ] this expectation that [ she ] shouldn't be going to the nightclubs, shouldn't be hanging out with all the wrong people…

AM: She was a Memphis girl.

MW: Yeah, I can see Shug on Beale Street hittin' the different juke joints and clubs every single night. But I think that her heart... Like my grandmother would always says, 'She means well.'

AM: How does Celie become changed because of this woman?

JB: I believe that Celie had good seeds planted in her at a young age. She had her sister always telling her that 'you're smart, and I'll teach you and it'll help you and we'll conquer the world.' They had dreams. But when she lost her sister, she lost that. I mean the seeds were still within Celie but she did not have anyone to water them at that point. She went from her father giving her away, to a husband, and then her sister leaving her. So the only influence that Celie has [ is ] Mister … and she didn't even know his name for years.

AM: I love that moment when she learns his name.

JB: He did plant and water bad seeds that maybe she's got from her step dad: 'You're ugly, you're worth nothing, you're nothing without me.' So Shug comes along, and she starts as they develop their relationship … to water the good seeds and starts planting more seeds and watering those. Celie eventually finds her own inner voice and says, 'You know what? I am beautiful. You know what? I am worth something. Wait a minute! I have a voice. I have an opinion'—and that's what Shug helps Celie do. When Celie decides to leave Mister, not only does she decide to leave him, but she [ knows ] 'I'm going to be ok.'

AM: They have written you two one of the most beautiful love duets, What About Love. It's just a beautiful song. It echoes throughout the show. What is it about that song? It's just gotta feel fantastic to sing that song.

JB: It's great singing it, and I feel like it that song depicts the relationship Celie and Shug has throughout the show. Celie starts off [ singing ] , 'Is that me floating away, lifted up to the clouds by a kiss, never felt nothing like this.' I feel like there's a lot of symbolism in that because—yes, the kiss—visually that's what you see. But it's not just a kiss. Celie has never had a relationship with a female outside of her sister. She never had someone who actually cared about what she thought and someone who took time to say to her, 'Girl, you don't let no man talk to you like that.' She never had that type of sisterhood. Her sisterhood she experienced as a child but this was different. Shug came to her when she was low and she [ had given ] up. And Michelle can speak on this further but Shug never had a relationship with a woman...

MW: Her [ relationships ] were all with men.

JB: And the women that she did come in contact with were intimidated by Shug. They didn't like her. But Celie had no motives against Shug. It was authentic, like 'Let me help you with your dress, and let me comb your hair.' That song in my opinion depicts that relationship.

AM: Shug does have these 'A-ha!' moments of ' [ Celie ] you have no idea what you're giving me.'

MW: Definitely. Even in [ the song ] Too Beautiful For Words, Shug says 'Man, if i had an ounce of what you have, I wouldn't have to run around shaking my boobs and waving my booty in front of everybody's face.' But she looks at Celie like you've got so many wonderful qualities. It's normal to look at somebody who's got the glitz and the glamour and [ think ] , they got everything, they gotta be happy. But then she's looking at [ Celie ] wanting what she has.

AM: I think it's beautiful that they find this intimate relationship. Michelle, you're about to release your first solo R&B CD. What do you want it to express about you?

MW: It's my third CD, [ and the ] first R&B [ one ] —the other two were gospel. So this time I'm going into a whole different arena. I went through a period of my life where I said, 'I've got to get it out. I've got to write about it.' So it may not fit the gospel format. My second CD talked about love and relationships and, you know working it out with God, letting him handle some things but … I've still got a huge gospel fan base, so I wouldn't ever do anything to upset them or do anything that is not me, but at the same time I didn't want to be put in a box, either. But I can't go too far from my roots, which was gospel.

AM: You sound like Shug Avery.

The Color Purple runs at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, on April 17-July 22. Tickets for The Color Purple are $28-$85 and are on sale at the Broadway In Chicago Box Offices ( 151 W. Randolph, 24 W. Randolph and 18 W. Monroe ) , Ticketmaster at 312-902-1400, online at and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers.


This article shared 3593 times since Sun Apr 1, 2007
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Here comes the sun: Summer plays are blooming indoors and outside
There were times when we thought that the sunshine would never return, but despite climate change and contagion, there's no stopping summer—and while we usually associate expanded daylight hours with outdoor activities, a number of theaters ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Broadway, JoJo Siwa, WEHO Pride, 'Jurassic World,' Madonna
The Broadway League announced that all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City have extended the current mask requirement for audiences through at least June 30, Playbill noted. Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, ...

Gay News

It began in 1834 as an advertising gimmick: In order to promote sales of their Far East Oriental imported goods, the Carnes Brothers procured their company a real-life spokesperson. This was the teenage Afong Moy, known ...

Gay News

THEATER Season of Concern to present 'Jerry's Girls' on June 27
"Jerry's Girls: A Benefit for Season of Concern" will take place Monday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Season of Concern Chicago is dedicated to providing financial assistance to ...

Gay News

Quiz program 'Wait, Wait' to start taping June 16 at the Studebaker
Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, NPR's weekly hour-long quiz program, will resume live audience recordings Thursday, June 16, in a new Chicago home: the historic Studebaker Theater at the Fine Arts Building, 401 S. Michigan Ave. ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer playwright, LGBTQ+ films, BMI Pop Awards, new superhero
Jeremy O. Harris, the queer Tony-nominated author of Slave Play, has been named the presiding playwright for the 2023 Yale Drama Series Prize—one of the theater world's most prestigious playwriting honors, Deadline noted. Harris joins the ...

Gay News

Inaugural Heatwave Music Festival in Chicago on July 16-17
Auris Presents announced the debut edition and artist lineup for the Heatwave Music Festival, coming to Chicago on July 16-17 in Douglass Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Dr. According to a press release, the festival will be ...

Gay News

MUSIC Ty Herndon releasing 'personal' album 'Jacob' on July 15
Out gay Grammy-nominated and Dove Award-winning country artist Ty Herndon announced the release date of his forthcoming album, Jacob. Jacob—called Herndon's "most personal album to date"—will be out July 15. ...

Gay News

Casting announced for 'Queer Eye: The Musical Parody' at Second City
Comedy institution The Second City announced the cast and crew of Queer Eye: The Musical Parody, which will start running Thursday, May 26. (The production will run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at ...

Gay News

MUSIC Riot Fest to take place Sept. 16-18 in Chicago
Riot Fest—one of the largest remaining independent festivals in the country—is slated to return to Douglass Park on Sept. 16-18. Festival organizers revealed a jam-packed lineup taking up five stages and performing punk, indie rock, hip-hop, ...

Gay News

57th Street Art Fair marking 75th anniversary on June 4-5
The 57th Street Art Fair, the Midwest's oldest juried art fair, will mark its 75th anniversary with an in-person celebration on June 4-5 featuring nearly 200 artists, live music presented by Buddy Guy's Legends, and a ...

Gay News

THEATER 'The Secretaries: A Parable' running through June 11
First Floor Theater returns to live production with the world premiere of company member Omer Abbas Salem's The Secretaries: A Parable following the script's 2021 development as part of Goodman Theatre's Future Labs. The production will ...

Gay News

THEATER Underscore's 'Notes & Letters' running through May 28
Underscore Theatre Company celebrates its 10th-anniversary season with the world premiere of the musical Notes & Letters, which features book, music and lyrics by Annabelle Lee Revak (she/her) and is ...

Gay News

Chicago Gay Men's Chorus to present 'Unimaginable' on May 20-22
The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus will present the spring show "CGMC: Unimaginable," on May 20-22 at three Chicagoland venues. The performances will take place Friday, May 20, at 8 p.m. at Chicago's Athenaeum Center for Thought ...

Gay News

FILM 'The Adventures of Priscilla' to show nationwide on June 2
Iconic Events Releasing will kick off Pride Month with a special nationwide rerelease of MGM's classic 1994 Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Screenings will take place in select theaters nationwide on ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.