Cynthia Erivo stars in The Color Purple at Broadway's Bernard B. Jacob's Theatre.
Cynthia Erivo stars in The Color Purple at Broadway's Bernard B. Jacob's Theatre.
(© David Gordon)

We were impressed enough by Cynthia Erivo's roof-raising portrayal of Celie in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple. How many actresses receive mid-show standing ovations? This is all the more remarkable considering that Erivo was little-known in New York before The Color Purple, her Broadway debut. Heading into awards season, she was the odds-on favorite to clinch a number of acting trophies.

And then she did something to shock us all: Late in May (a month many actors bemoan for its exhausting number of banquets and glad-handing cocktail receptions), Erivo rose with the Saturday dawn to participate in the Brooklyn half-marathon. Running 13.1 miles from the Brooklyn Museum to the Coney Island boardwalk, Erivo finished the race in 1 hour, 48 minutes (a personal best). Then she went to Manhattan to star in two performances.

Like most Broadway productions, The Color Purple performs twice on Saturdays (2pm and 8pm). No matter the athletic proclivities of the actors, the show must go on. One performance of Celie looks exhausting enough, but Erivo's ability to do two after running the length of the borough of Kings convinces us that Erivo is truly a force of nature. She ticked off her day's accomplishments on Twitter a little after midnight before tucking into bed:

Three weeks later, when Erivo won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, nobody could claim that the dynamo diva hadn't worked for it. And lest you think it was all a publicity stunt, Erivo ran the full New York City marathon in November — it was her sixth time in the race.