*Alice Walker’s story lives on in vividly at the Hollywood Pantages as Menier Chocolate Factory Productions presents the 2018 North American tour of The Color Purple, playing now through June 17th 2018. The staged version was written by Marsha Norman, with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. On opening night excitement was in the air and the house was packed with stars such as Keith David, Glynn Turman, Columbus Short, Cedric The Entertainer, Loni Love and producer Quincy Jones, among many others.
The performances of the cast were pristine, in that they hit their marks and executed their notes. To someone experiencing The Color Purple for the first time there is no escaping the innocence of Celie (played by Adrianna Hicks) and the purity of this young woman’s plight to break free from an abusive master. In this case it’s Mister (Gavin Gregory), who has turned his home into a place where he can dominate, at the expense of an ingenue whose inner strength and beauty is yet to be realized. However, beauty and strength is personified in the charismatic Miss Sophia (Carrie Compere) and Miss Shug Avery (Carla R. Stewart).
The stagnant setting was the back drop as the players marched through staged movements that followed Celie from child labor, through the fields, through intimate settings with Miss Shug Avery, into Miss Sophia’s jail cell, into her place of solitude and finally into total independence. The revival of The Color Purple is filled with innuendos of “she power,” as Celie and the other women fight to find their own voices and respectable places in the world. Meanwhile the men either succumb or remain complicit in the face of the inward and outward oppression of rural Georgia in the early 1900’s.
Still we root for these characters, we want them all to win somehow. Thus, the timely appeal of The Color Purple remains in tact. It’s far from a fairy tale, but a definite classic literary tale, turned iconic movie that continues to reincarnate on the stage.
Perhaps a slow and breathtaking build to Miss Sophia’s admonition to Celie; “You told Harpo to beat me” would be an even bigger pay off for the audience. We are breathless when Ceile finally declares to Mister that his fate is tied to him doing right by her. In both cases these transformational moments moved in staccato as opposed to a crescendo that leads to a fermata, where those lines are clearly heard, felt and remembered. Also missed were the classic Color Purple songs “Sister” and “God Is Trying to Tell You Something.” Instead great songs like “Push The Button,” “Hell No” and Celie’s coming of age anthem “I’m Here” prove to be enjoyable and move the story along, with the audience cheering at the end, as Celie becomes a survivor and a heroine.
EURweb’s LaRita Shelby spoke with J. Daughtry, who played Harpo in The Color Purple revival and he states that he and the cast were elated to be welcomed to Los Angeles by the stars and the people whom they love and look up to. He also salutes the beauty of being different, and how that was ultimately Celie’s pathway to power and independence.
Direction and Musical Staging is by John Doyle. The North American tour of the Tony Award®winning Broadway revival of THE COLOR PURPLE comes to Los Angeles for a limited engagement May 27, 2018 through June 17, 2018 at The Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Tickets are on sale and start at $35.00. For your convenience, tickets can be purchased by calling (800) 982-2787, visiting HollywoodPantages.com, Ticketmaster.com, or in person at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre Box Office – 6233 Hollywood Boulevard – Hollywood & Vine- zip code 90028.