The U.K. stage production of The Color Purple will have to find a new Celie.
Playbill reports that Seyi Omooba, who was cast as Celie for the U.K. production of the popular Broadway musical, has left the production because of controversy surrounding her anti-LGBT stance. According to the article, one of her Facebook posts from 2014 came back to haunt her. In the post, she stated, “I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right.”
After social media found out about the post, Leicester’s Curve Theater and the Birmingham Hippodrome, where the musical will take place this June and July, stated that a decision to let Omooba go came after “careful reflection, including backing from licensing company Theatrical Rights Worldwide and The Color Purple show creators.
“The audition process, as ever, was conducted professionally and rigorously, led by an exceptional casting director with actors who are evaluated on what they present in the audition room,” the parties involved said in a statement. “We do not operate on a social media screening process in the casting of actors.”
If you are familiar with The Color Purple, it’s easy to see why Omooba’s past statement was so controversial. Ironically, Omooba is playing a character that experiences her sexuality with another woman, Shug Avery. Shug also provides Celie with physical and emotional avenues to find herself and gain true independence from her abusive husband, Mister. Perhaps an actress who is prejudiced against LGBT people would not be able to accurately portray Celie’s internal growth due to her relationship with Shug.
No word on who will replace Omooba, but the show is still scheduled to go forward at the Curve Theater June 28 through July 13 and at the Hippodrome July 16 through July 20.
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