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Broadway's 'Purlie Victorious' takes on racism through comedy, wit and star power

Leslie Odom Jr. and Kara Young star in "Purlie Victorious." (Marc J. Franklin)
Leslie Odom Jr. and Kara Young star in "Purlie Victorious." (Marc J. Franklin)

It was 1961 when actor, director, writer and activist Ossie Davis’s “Purlie Victorious” premiered on Broadway. The show is a brave, groundbreaking satire calling out racism and segregation in the American South.

Six decades later the show is back on Broadway for a second “non-confederate romp through the cotton patch,” as the show’s subtitle calls it. This time, Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. stars as Purlie, and powerhouse actor Kara Young plays Purlie’s

assistant, confidante, and eventual love interest, Lutibelle Gussie Mae Jenkins.

The two bring their own energy to the stage, but say their inspiration is still

the original show and performances by writer Davis and his wife Ruby Dee.

Host Robin Young caught up with Odom and Young backstage before a recent

performance.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.