Monday, November 20, 2017

Purple Reigns in the Community

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

A steady buzz is building among theater lovers, as the West Las Vegas Library Theatre prepares for a staging of the smash Broadway musical “The Color Purple,” August 23-26.

Working with a cast of 50, the creative forces behind this local production are producers Torrey Russell and Preston Coghill, founders of the non profit organization A Source of Joy Theatricals/Broadway in the Hood. Free to the public, tickets to the show — a maximum of two per person, until the last one is distributed — will be available at the theater two hours before curtain time each night.

Demand, it seems, is high. Interviewed nearly one month before the show’s debut, Russell said the venue is already “receiving hundreds of calls a day” from people inquiring about tickets.

“There are several [elements that stand out] in our production of ‘The Color Purple,'” Russell explained. “First, 95 percent of all the cast members are Las Vegas locals — teachers, students and police officers, just to name a few. The audience will also have the opportunity to [enjoy] the play in a 390-seat intimate setting. It is also free to the public, so that the entire community can enjoy it. The Vegas twist will be appreciated by all.”

The production has attracted a number of talented locals eager to share their time and abilities. Among them: Bubba Knight, a famed member of the legendary musical group Gladys Knight and the Pips. “We are so blessed to have all our cast members,” said Russell, adding that Knight “will be playing the character of Old Mister in the show.”

In just a few short years, A Source of Joy Theatricals/Broadway in the Hood has built a strong following, by providing free-of-charge entertainment to the community, and offering aspiring performers an opportunity to learn their craft and display their talents.

“We recently received a standing ovation at The Smith Center’s Ribbon of Life HIV/AIDS event,” said Russell. “After our performance, they notified us that they wanted to host a fundraiser to assist in keeping our non profit efforts going.”

Such offers of assistance are crucial; Russell acknowledges that it has been a financial challenge to keep the operation afloat. He fears that without ongoing financial support — and a much-needed rehearsal space where costumes and props can also be stored — they may someday have to discontinue the program.

“Preston and I have been funding our non profit primarily by ourselves, without any governmental assistance,” he said. “We have reached out to local leaders, but haven’t yet had calls returned. We currently work out of the back of a church — a small church. I know that there are hundreds of empty buildings in Vegas that could serve us well. All we need is space and opportunity — that’s it.”

For more information about “The Color Purple,” call (702) 507-3989.

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