THIS STREAMLINED IN YOUR FACE ‘COLOR PURPLE’ WILL INSPIRE YOU AS IT BRINGS YOU TO TEARS OF JOY
The timing could not be better for a national tour of THE COLOR PURPLE: THE MUSICAL. The sweeping musical is now on stage through May 27th at the Orpheum Theatre. This a reminder that sexual exploitation is not a Hollywood invention. The relevant “Metoo” movement, the compelling story sings louder and prouder today than ever. With the book by playwright Marsha Norman and the music and lyrics of Brenda Russell, Ailee Willis and Stephen Bray this uplifting musical is a MUST SEE. THE COLOR PURPLE takes us back to Georgia 1920’s and of course women of any color were the bottom. When the musical opened on Broadway in 2005 it was well received. Producing partner, Oprah Winfrey’s performance in the film twenty years earlier earned her an Oscar nomination.
This national tour is inspired by the Broadway revival that was skillfully brought back to life by director John Doyle, who is famous for downsizing shows to enhance the heart of a story without the huge show boat setting. Doyle's intimate approach to the script delivers the heart of the story; Celie's struggles front and center as we see her survive through decades of rape, abuse, and loss of faith. Although the stripped down version of in your face drama is the best way to see her journey of finding strength, and ultimately taking her power back is inspirational. The cast is stunning as their voices and songs can bring you to tears and fill you with smiles.
Doyle takes the action and brings it downstage with whisper and rage like a skillful storyteller. He sets it on a mostly bare stage, that he designed in front of an abstract wall of old shanty timber and aged furniture. The backdrop takes the audience’s imagination into a poor schoolhouse, a rural church, and the homes and communities of Walker’s stunning cast of characters. Adrianna Hicks creates an immediate connection as Celie with her innocent, childlike loss before showing her emotional growth that allows her to become a forceful power. The terrific Hicks’ vulnerable singing voice is perfect for her somber farewell to her infant baby, “Somebody Gonna Love You.” Hicks’ vocal perfection later stops the show down with her rich, solos “I’m Here” and the moving title song “The Color Purple.”
The booming Gavin Gregory as Mister celebrates all the show’s male darkside with his commanding voice and large presence. His character’s solo in the second act “Celie’s Curse” brings a turnaround sympathy, and Gregory brings it home. The two act musical brings some strong women roles. Carrie Compere as Sofia, N’Jameh Camara as Nettie, and Erica Durham as the adorable Squeak. They bring huge emotion, sass and humor to the stories dramatic arc. The role of Shug Avery played by the pitch perfect Carla R. Stewart is just as impressive as Jennifer Hudson who played the role in the Tony winning Broadway revival. She sizzles in the sexy number “Push da Button,” then brings the audience to tears with the anthem banner “The Color Purple.”
Musical director and pit conductor Darryl Archibald brings the rich score of gospel and funky rhythms and blues to fill the Orpheum. Dan Moses Schreier’s sound design creates the amazing chorus of the company up to the heavens. It is a wonderful score with a superb company. Director Doyle’s no nonsense direction brings the power of the story right to your seat with no distractions. Ann Hould-Ward’s costumes are simple with earth tones for the women, and bright red flair for Shrug. The second act takes a contemporary look for one number, it is bright with joy as Ward’s costumes bring this story that urban feel. This streamlined THE COLOR PURPLE is perfect for the “metoo” movement and to wake up the importance of its issues. Its is a beautiful, important musical and needs to be on your spring list of theatre to attend. SHN as always offers rush tickets for 40.00 that go on sale 2 hours before each performance. Mobile rush seats are offered through TixToday.com as early as 9 am on show days.
The Color Purple
Book by Marsha Norman.
Music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.
Adapted from Alice Walker
Directed by John Doyle
Through May 27
SHN’s Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., S.F.
Two hours 25 minutes
$55-$246, subject to change www.shnsf.com
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy
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IN-PERSON RUSH TICKETS
A limited number of $40 Rush tickets will be available for every performance beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the SHN Orpheum Theatre Box Office. Tickets are subject to availability. Cash only. 2 per person. Rush tickets are void if resold.
MOBILE RUSH TICKETS
Download the TodayTix app in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store to unlock the Rush ticketing feature by sharing on Facebook or Twitter through the app. Check back in the app at 9am for access to exclusive day-of $40 Rush tickets for every performance.