'Color Purple''s Cynthia Erivo Sets Sights On Films

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Cynthia Erivo was a sensation in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, for which she won the Tony Award as  downtrodden yet triumphant Celie. Since then the British actor-singer has launched a film career with several movies about to be released and a major one to begin filming based on the life of Harriet Tubman. But first she will be performing in concert Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ridgefield Playhouse — and it may be the last chance to see this incredible singer perform live for a while.

What will she be singing? “With shows like this I tend to want to do songs that bring me joy and a look into the kind of music I listen to,” Erivo says. “I tend to do some Aretha Franklin, like ‘Natural Woman.’ I like rock like Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ and Annie Lennox’s ‘Why.’ ”

On the front burners blazing are a string of films this year and next, including Widows with Liam Neeson, Bad Times at the El Royale, starring Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm and Jeff Bridges, Chaos Walking with a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, and Needle in a Timestack with Orlando Bloom and Leslie Odom.

And then there’s the big one: Harriet, filming this fall for a 2019 release, in which she plays the former slave and American abolitionist and political activist. Erivo will sing some gospel spirituals in the film.

“But I’m never going to leave my live performing behind,” she says. In fact, one dream theater project is in the “talking stage,” and she’s also chatting up her friends, the Oscar, Grammy and Tony Award-winning composing team of Justin Paul and Benj Pasek (Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman). “I’d love to do a new musical, too.”