CHICAGO - Maybe the carpet should have been purple, instead of red. Twenty-two years after making her Hollywood debut in the movie version of Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" and two years after her Broadway debut as producer of the musical of the same name, Oprah Winfrey walked the carpet Thursday evening as the stage show premiered in her home city.
Winfrey, clad in muted purple silk, said as she entered the Cadillac Palace Theatre that opening on Broadway and on Chicago's Randolph Street were completely different experiences.
"There's an intimacy and an obvious connection that I feel here that I couldn't possibly feel in New York," said Winfrey, whose Harpo Studios are only a few blocks from the theater.
"I loved the feeling of just happening to have the show on Broadway and to be a part of having it on Broadway, but I never imagined that about a year later that we'd be able to take it around the country, and eventually the world," she said.
Winfrey said there now are plans to take the show to South Africa.
"It's pretty powerful for me, on every level, to come down the same street where I first saw the movie 21 years ago, and my name wasn't allowed to be on the marquee, and to be able to know now that I was a part of being able to bring it here," she said. "It's really a powerful feeling."
Winfrey played the second female lead of Sofia in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film, but the first-time producer was second to none in star power at Thursday evening's premiere. The crowd was so Oprah-fixated that few even noticed R&B star R. Kelly, who stood on the red carpet in an eye-catching three-piece military-style suit.