CELIE (African-American, 20s-early 30s): Drives the story. Vulnerable, spirited, introverted, mischievous, seemingly passive but really not, has a deep, hard soul, believes that she is ugly, has a sense of humor which is sometimes wicked. She is an observer. Needs a great belt singing voice with lots of soul.
SHUG (African-American, 30s-40s): A popular singer, we meet her at death's door. Attractive, confident, dynamic, powerful, irresistible, but has a frailty, like a wounded animal. Her vulnerability is shocking later on. She is loved by both Celie and Mister. Needs a knockout, Bessie Smith-style, bluesy singing voice.
MISTER (African-American, 30s-40s. Also known as ALBERT): Like Celie, a deep well. Handsome, big, masculine, strong presence, dominating, capable of brutal behavior but also a victim in his own way. Gets his power for free. Married to Celie, he abuses her. He is in love with Shug. He transforms to a kind man by the end of the story. Needs a great singing voice.
SOFIA (African-American, 30s): Powerful warrior woman. Physically bigger but beautiful. Comfortable being large, great sense of humor, touching, vulnerable. Married to Harpo, she does not let anyone mistreat her. Needs comic chops. Needs a great belt singing voice.
HARPO (African-American, 20s): Mister's vulnerable, confused, good-hearted son. Represents the new generation. He marries the independent Sofia. He spends much time trying to get Sofia to obey him the way Celie obeys his father, but he is unsuccessful, as Sofia is considerably stronger than he is. Harpo eventually establishes a jukejoint in his first house and becomes Squeak's lover. Later, he and Sofia reconcile. Through his love of Sofia, he learns how to love a woman. Needs a great tenor singing voice.
NETTIE (African-American, 20s): Celie's younger sister. Attractive, adventuresome, feisty spirit, maternal, more educated and knowledgeable than Celie. She has a powerful bond with Celie. Forced by Mister to leave Celie, she starts a new life in Africa. Needs a great belt singing voice with African influence.
SQUEAK ( African-American, 20s): Harpo's lover after Sofia leaves him. Although she is mistreated, she eventually undergoes a transformation, demanding to be called by her actual name, Mary Agnes, and starting a new life. She is of mixed ancestry. Attractive, sassy, fiery, strong-willed, unafraid to take anybody on, has a caring heart. Needs comic chops. Needs a great singing voice with belt and soprano capability.
ADULT SINGERS: Males and females, 20s - 50s, African-American. All types and singing ranges. Need fantastic singing voices and dynamic personalities. To play various roles in the ensemble The ensemble includes a trio known as Church Ladies, busybody types who are featured throughout the show.
CHILD SINGERS (One African-American male 9 - 12 years old and three African-American females 9 - 12 years old. Need strong singing voices and dynamic personalities).