Director Reuben Yabuku and his award-winning company Buku Productions just recently finished a trio of performances last month at the Millennium Centre in Southfield. The musical Purlie is an adaptation of 1960 original play written by late acclaimed actor Ossie Davis, which co-starred his wife Ruby Lee, and was then adapted for Broadway in the 1970s with an all-star African-American cast that included Robert Guillaime and Clevon Little. The plot is the same: the main character, Purlie Victorious Judson, returns from up North to his Southern hometown to con the owner of the plantation out of the money he believes is his inheritance with the help of a young woman.
“It’s folks who are stuck on a plantation” Reuben said. “The guy who owns the plantation owes the stores. Even though people want to leave, they can’t because they own so much. It’s common practice for sharecroppers.
“People can take something away politically, if you want to look at it that way. Ossie Davis was a very political person. The story is a universal story, a human piece, but there are a lot of different interpretations. I want to believe that Ossie Davis was more heavy-handed. If he were alive today, he’d do it differently. I just want to make sure that it’s contemporary. The music is wonderful. The singing is phenomenal. The audience loved it and the crowd was sold out each performance.
“But it wasn’t just putting on a good show; it was bringing to light the important issue of adoption.”
Adoption awareness is the mission of Buku Productions. At each showing of Purlie, a portion of the proceeds benefited the Family Affair Adoption Recruitment & Awareness Festival, educating potential adoptive parents on the benefits of adoption and helping to unite prospective adoptive parents with their children.
“As an adoptive parent, I know the joys of adopting kids” Yabuku stated. “It’s a wonderful thing. Looking at it, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Can you put a price tag-a value-on a child’s love? I want to people to look at it, and I want them to consider it a blessing.”
For more on Reuben Yabuku and his upcoming productions, go online to www.bukuproductions.org.