With its theme of triumph over adversity, the producers of Oprah Winfrey's hit musical, The Color Purple, have aligned themselves with a non-profit organization which aims to put the victims of 2005's Hurricane Katrina back into homes.
The Color Purple will make its home at The Arie Crown Theater for two weeks beginning Wednesday, and reprising her role as Celie is American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino.
"There is a lot of things still going on in New Orleans that has not been fixed, a lot of families who don't have homes, and I got to see that when I did my Lifetime movie, and I met a lot of people and I made some friends," said Barrino, who joined producers in Chicago on Tuesday to launch the fundraising campaign to benefit the St. Bernard Project.
The project has rebuilt more than 200 homes and is currently working on 35 more. Homes are completely rebuilt in about 12 weeks and cost an average of $15,000 per house, according to the Web site.
"It's sad and remarkable that four years (after Katrina), there are still 14,000 families in the New Orleans area who still don't have homes, that have been displaced, that are still living in FEMA trailers or a car, or tripled up and quadrupled up with their families in other homes," said The Color Purple Lead Producer Scott Sanders.
Sanders said this year marks the first theater season that will happen in New Orleans in the newly-rebuilt Mahalia Jackson Theatre, where the show will run Dec. 1 - 6.
Beginning with the Chicago's engagement, the remaining 2009 presenting cities of the national tour will solicit donations from the audience to benefit the St. Bernard Project.
Donations can also be made online.