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Broadway star adds shine to the Tony Award-winning musical The Color Purple at The Armory

Lana Gordon plays Shug Avery, a larger-than-life character who has captured the hearts of audiences and critics alike in the Broadway musical based on Alice Walker’s iconic book and Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film.

Presented by Portland Center Stage September 11, 2018

When the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical, The Color Purple, opens at The Armory Theater on September 15th, audiences will be dazzled by Lana Gordon who plays Shug Avery, the blues singing, fireball with a soft and tender side. Gordon has sparkled in hot Broadway musicals like Chicago, The Lion King, and Jesus Christ Superstar. We caught up with her to chat about her upcoming appearance at The Armory Theater in this blockbuster play.

Lana Gordon will star as Shug in "The Color Purple” at The Armory Theater.

Image: Kate Szrom

In The Color Purple, Shug is known as the “Queen Honey Bee.” She’s a big star from Memphis who comes to town and shakes up the world of the central character Celie, helping to inspire her – along with audiences – as she journeys toward love and self-empowerment. What is your favorite thing about playing Shug?

Lana Gordon: What I love about playing Shug is that I can really relate to her. I understand the complexity of her as a woman who has to survive and has the desire to find love and to be loved ... truly loved. Her passion for life and positive spirit, in many ways, brings me comfort and a sense of peace as I portray her in this amazing play. I am able to draw from within myself to give my all in capturing her essence of being in a time where women were seen in stereotypical roles and she was able to overcome the odds to rise above it.

Broadway stars Lana Gordon (left) and Felicia Boswell (right) will take the stage in Portland as Shug and Celie.

Image: Kate Szrom

In the show, your character has such a range, from the exhilarating performance of “Push da Button” that lights up the juke joint to the tender, intimate connections with Celie, singing songs like “What About Love.” What is your favorite song or moment in the show?

LG: That is not easy for I love many moments and songs in the show, but one of my favorite moments is when Shug tells Celie she has found the letters from her sister Nettie that Albert has been hiding all those years. One of my favorite songs in the show is “Too Beautiful for Words.” The simplicity of it is just glorious.

This show has a huge cast and creative team. Share a little about what it’s been like working with this ensemble to prepare for the show.

LG: It has been a blessing to be part of such an extraordinary, talented cast, and the creative team is out of this world. Our director, Timothy Douglas, has been a true light and gift to be in the same space with at this time of my life. We have an angelic cast. You do NOT want to miss this production!!!!!!!!!!    

Don’t miss The Color Purple running at The Armory Theater from September 15 — October 28, 2018. Tickets and more information can be found at https://www.pcs.org/purple

The Color Purple is based upon the novel by Alice Walker, book by Marsha Norman, with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. The Color Purple is directed by Timothy Douglas with music direction by Darius Smith.