Thursday, July 13, 2006


Hey kids, let’s play fun facts! The musical “Purlie” had a (somewhat vague) Virginia connection before the current production at the Dell. Do you know what it is?

Way back in 1981, Showtime taped a production of “Purlie” which starred a pair of actors who were two of only a handful of African-Americans who headlined popular TV shows in that era. Can you name them?

One of the lead actresses in that production would go on to play the mother of one of the most popular African-American actors of all time. Can you name her and the TV show she would later star in?

OK, answers: The Encores! production of “Purlie” last year starred central Virginia native Blair Underwood. If you want to go even further, the original 1970 production on Broadway ended its run at the theater now called the Virginia (it was the ANTA back then).

The 1981 production starred Robert Guillaume who would go on to star in the TV show “Benson” and Sherman Hemsley, the beloved George Jefferson of “The Jeffersons.” The production also starred Clarice Taylor who would co-star as Bill Cosby’s mom on “The Cosby Show.”

You’ll thank me for this some day, perhaps during a late night Trivial Pursuit game…

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