Joburg and Shanghai 2020

Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay are excited to announce that their highly acclaimed, award-winning production of the musical The Color Purple will travel to the SAIC-Shanghai Culture Square Theatre in China for fourteen performances from July 29th to August 9th 2020.

The all-South African company, helmed by director Janice Honeyman, will move ‘lock, stock and barrel’ to give Chinese audiences their first experience of this Tony and Grammy Award Winning musical.

“I am so proud of the achievement of each and every member of this production,” says executive producer Bernard Jay. “They deserve this further acknowledgement of success and will be flying the flag for Joburg Theatre, for the City of Joburg and for South Africa as a country by taking their talents internationally with this glorious musical.”

The SAIC-Shanghai Culture Square is a major player in China’s stage scene.  Opening in 2011, the 1,800 seat theatre is a pre-eminent musical theatre venue in Shanghai, hosting Broadway and West End titles and niche musicals such as Titanic, Notre Dame de Paris and now The Color Purple.  The theatre also strives to cultivate and build an artistic stage for the development of musical theatre and to lead the Chinese cultural and leisure industry.

The Color Purple is deeply moving.  I am thrilled to present this production in Shanghai,” says Richard Fei, Deputy General Manager of SAIC-Shanghai Culture Square.  “When I saw this American story in 2018 at Joburg Theatre, I was transported across a different space and time, hearing mankind from all over the world calling out through this show.”

The Color Purple musical is based upon the 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning epistolary novel written by Alice Walker and the 1985 Warner Bros/Amblin Entertainment motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.  The musical has a book by Marsha Norman, with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

The South African production was first seen on The Nelson Mandela Theatre stage at Joburg Theatre in February 2018, returning for a second triumphant season in August of the same year.  In 2019, the production received a total of seven Naledi Theatre Awards (South Africa’s equivalent of the Tonys), including the prize for Best Musical Production.

The Color Purple is directed by Janice Honeyman, with production design by Sarah Roberts, lighting design by Mannie Manim, sound design by Richard Smith, choreography by Oscar Buthelezi and musical direction by Dale-Ray Scheepers.

Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay’s production of the musical is represented internationally by Harmonia Holdings Ltd and Great Leap Forward Limited.  Negotiations are ongoing for the South African company to perform elsewhere in China and in South Korea, Australia, France and Germany in 2020/21.

“I am beyond thrilled that Harmonia is bringing this important piece of theatre in this beautiful South African production to the China market,” says Ken Dingledine, President of Harmonia Holdings Ltd.  “With its universal themes and deeply human story, it is a show timely for today’s China – whose people are embracing female empowerment more than ever.”

Meanwhile, South African audiences will again have the opportunity to see the production in its ‘Bon Voyage’ season at Joburg Theatre from April 2nd to 12th this year.  Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 0861 670 670.

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