Purlie | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This exuberant musical satire of civil-rights-era racism, a hit on Broadway in 1970, rates revival. Black preacher Purlie Victorious hopes to get back his church by swindling Ol' Cap'n Stonewall Jackson Cotchipee, owner of the plantation where Purlie's parishioners labor in sharecropper servitude. The plot takes a dangerous turn when the lecherous Cotchipee shows an interest in Purlie's girlfriend and coconspirator, Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, but Purlie saves the day with the help of Cotchipee's rebellious son, a would-be protest singer. Based on a 1961 folk comedy by Ossie Davis, the show bursts with bumptious humor and a gospel-blues-funk score, delivered with rafter-raising energy by director Sheldon Epps's cast of skilled, strong-voiced singer-dancers. Through 10/30: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7:30 PM. Tue 10/11, 7:30 PM. Also 2 PM Sat-Sun and Thu 10/6. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, 312-443-3800. $20-$75.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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