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‘The Color Purple’ returns

Although Taprena Augustine is now a musical theater veteran, she makes it clear that appearing in the national tour of “The Color Purple” is both a professional and personal high point of her career. The musical returns next week to Atlanta, with its lesbian relationship intact.

Georgia author Alice Walker’s best-selling 1982 novel is the inspiration for the musical, which had its world premiere at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2004. Shortly after that it bowed on Broadway where it became a commercial success and won a Tony for actress LaChanze. A national tour is on its third stop here.

Augustine was hired at the beginning of last year to play Shug Avery on the road. The actress calls the musical a classic.

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Spring Theater: Plenty of gay on local stages

Local playwright Jim GrimsleyTheater fans looking for LGBT-themed shows this spring won’t be disappointed. From Oscar Wilde to naked bodybuilders to puppets, the season is hopping.

Gay playwright Jim Grimsley’s “Mr. Universe,” presented by 7 Stages May 26 to June 12, is one of the don’t-miss shows of the next few months. Grimsley’s 1987 play is about a hooker and two drag queens who find a naked man in the streets of New Orleans, alone and bleeding, and decide to take him home.

The production stars Doyle Reynolds and Don Finney, both openly gay, and is directed by Del Hamilton. According to Grimsley, this is the first local production of the play since its original bow at 7 Stages.

Actor’s Express is staging the gayest play the company has done in a while: David Hare’s “The Judas Kiss” (May 12 – June 11).