Hillary Clinton Receives Ovation at ‘The Color Purple’


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Hillary Clinton

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Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Hillary Clinton, who has kept a relatively low public profile since losing the presidential election two months ago, on Sunday showed up at the final performance of a revival of “The Color Purple” on Broadway.

Mrs. Clinton received a sustained standing ovation from the sold-out crowd, a response far warmer than the scattered booing and clapping that greeted the arrival of Vice President-elect Mike Pence when he attended “Hamilton,” just one block north, on Nov. 18. Mrs. Clinton was accompanied by her husband, Bill Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea.

Because the Sunday matinee was the last performance for this acclaimed production, which won last year’s Tony for best musical revival, Broadway royalty turned out: Phylicia Rashad (a 2004 Tony winner for best actress in “Raisin in the Sun”); Leslie Odom Jr. (a 2016 Tony winner for best actor for “Hamilton”); Jonathan Groff (a Tony nominee for his role as the foppish King George III in “Hamilton”) and Debra Messing, who made her Broadway debut in 2014 in “Outside Mullingar.”

Public sightings of Mrs. Clinton in the weeks since the election have still been sufficiently rare that they create a stir on social media. Strangers seek photographs with her at stores and in the woods near her home in Chappaqua, N.Y. But Mrs. Clinton has indicated that she and her husband plan to attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president on Jan. 20.

“The Color Purple” tells the searing story of a young black woman abused by her stepfather and her husband in rural Georgia in the early 20th century. The musical is an adaptation of a best-selling 1982 novel, by Alice Walker, which was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Steven Spielberg adapted the novel into a film in 1985, and Oprah Winfrey, who was featured in the film, went on to become an important champion, and co-producer, of the musical.

Jordan Serpone, 33, an audience member from Boston, said on Sunday that Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother to Ms. Messing, a Hillary Clinton supporter who was seated nearby.

Mr. Serpone, a Clinton supporter, said spotting Mrs. Clinton was a surprisingly emotional experience for him.

“I was having every emotion I’ve tried to get rid of over the best few weeks,” he said during intermission. He shook her hand but is still filled with frustration over her loss. “She shouldn’t be here. She should be planning her cabinet,” he said.

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