'Idol' journey: Fantasia Barrino goes from TV to center stage

Fantasia Barrino had never seen a Broadway production before "The Color Purple."

After being named the winner of the Fox reality television series "American Idol" in 2004, the singer was in New York when her manager told her she had free tickets to see the show.

"I was so excited," Barrino remembered. "I had never been to anything this big. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew it was something different. I got there I saw the show and I was blown away."

Barrino recalled looking around the audience to see if others were as affected by the story as she was.

"I remember shedding a tear and looking around the show theater to see if anybody else was crying," she said. "Everybody in the theater was touched and it inspired me."

Following the show, Barrino was shocked when she was asked to play the lead role in the national tour of the Broadway musical, which is based on the award-winning novel by Alice Walker and the film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Performing in only four cities, Barrino will take the stage at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta next week as Alice Walker's Celie, the poor black woman living in Georgia in the 1930s on which the musical's storyline centers.

"This story touches everything that I feel the people in this day and time need to hear," said Barrino, who called Atlanta her second home. "I want everyone in Atlanta to see my journey as Celie. I want all of them to be inspired."

SideBar: If you go

· What: "The Color Purple"

· When: Sept. 15 through 20 and 22 through 27

· Where: Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. in Atlanta

· Cost: Ticket prices start at $29.50

· For more information: Visit www.foxtheatre.org