LaChanze in The Color Purple(© Paul Kolnik)
LaChanze in The Color Purple
(© Paul Kolnik)
LaChanze, who won a 2006 Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Celie in the The Color Purple, will leave the production following the matinee on Sunday, November 5. Beginning Tuesday, November 7, Jeannette I. Bayardelle, who has been an understudy for the role, will take over the role of Celie.

On that same date, Kingsley Leggs and Lou Myers will respectively be succeded by Alton Fitzgerald White and Larry Marshall in the roles of Mister and Ol' Mister. The show began its Broadway run on November 1, 2005. During her year-long run in The Color Purple, LaChanze had a great many unscheduled absences.

The mother of three children, La Chanze has signed on to write two children's books with Jean Fiewel at Fiewel & Friends. "While my first love will always be the theater," she stated, "I'm looking forward to spending some time with my family and pursue opportunities in the TV, film and publishing worlds. The theater community will always remain a big part of my life and I hope to rejoin the cast of The Color Purple at some point down the road."

Bayardelle appeared off Broadway in Another Chance and Best of Both Worlds. She toured in the Deaf West production of Big River and in Rent alongside Constantine Maroulis; her gospel-flavored CD Praise Report was released in September 2005. <

White's Broadway credits include The Lion King, Ragtime, Miss Saigon, The Who's Tommy, and Smokey Joe's Cafe. Marshall was most recently seen in The Public Theater's production of Mother Courage and Her Children at the Delacorte; he has appeared on Broadway in such shows as Porgy and Bess, The Full Monty, Hair, Two Gentleman of Verona, and Threepenny Opera.

The Color Purple is based on Alice Walker's novel of the same title and on the subsequent film version by Steven Spielberg. Directed by Gary Griffin, the musical features songs by Grammy Award-winning composer/lyricists Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, and a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman.