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Bullet Points: Purple Haze

In the midst of a glittering, award-winning musical career, Jennifer Hudson is set to make her Broadway debut

Author Chris Wright Photography New York & Co/Splash News/Corbis

bulletpointsIt’s been a little under 12 years since Jennifer Hudson was eighty-sixed from the third season of “American Idol,” which may have been the best career break she ever had. Since then, the R&B singer has become a platinum-selling and Grammy-winning artist, and she nabbed a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her rapturous performance in the 2006 film Dreamgirls. The coming year may see Hudson add a Tony to her collection, as she makes her Broadway debut in the reprisal of “The Color Purple” (previews start November 10; opening December 10). First staged in 2005, the musical adaptation of the Alice Walker novel was a smash on its original go-round, and Hudson’s role—as the vain and voluptuous blues singer Shug Avery—is a tricky one to get right. So, despite all the post-“Idol” success, Hudson admits that she’s feeling the heat. Or, as she puts it, “Aaah!” 



“I think this is a good role for me to play, but there are definitely some nerves. This is my Broadway debut. I’ve done some stage work, but nothing to the extent of this. You have no idea who will be there on opening night, but you know the anticipation and expectation are going to be high. So there’s a sense of responsibility. You want to give it your all. Also, it’s a live show, happening right there and then. So, yeah, there are times when I’m like, ‘Aaah!’”


“Oh god, that would be a nightmare. Before the rehearsals had even started, I was working hard to get in the mindset. I’d seen the original
production four times, so I was already familiar with it. But I wanted to watch the film, read the book, read through the script—whatever I can do. Because I know that it’s me—it’s on me—which makes it even more scary. Let’s just say I’m very prepared not to do that. [Laughs.]”


“I did feel upset when I was packing my bags, getting on the airplane and leaving [the show]. It all felt very short-lived. But then I was like, ‘Wait a minute. I still have talent. I still have determination. I’m going to make it.’ But I didn’t imagine it would be like this—winning an Oscar, winning a Grammy, all these things. I mean, whoa! There are times I wake up and think, ‘What?’ But it’s not really about the awards; it’s about doing what I love, the love of singing. This is all I know how to do.”

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