- Don Ford
Don Reviews "The Color Purple: The Musical"
For the second time, I recently was able to see “The Color Purple: The Musical,” this time at the Winspear Opera House. From the classic novel from Alice Walker, this production stars Mariah Lyttle as Celie, a young African-American woman who is given away by her father to Mister (Andrew Malone), who actually wants to marry her sister, Nettie (Nashka Derosiers). The sisters are very close but wind up separated as Nettie goes off to school as Celie is treated horribly by Mister, much like he does to everyone else around him except the love he still pines for in Shug Avery (Sandie Lee). As the story goes, Celie still holds on to hope that she will be reunited with her sister even as the darkness around her tries to take her spark away.
The production value is the same it was the first time I saw it, with only chairs as props used in multiple ways depending on the scene that is being portrayed. Assisted by well-done lighting, the mood in each scene comes across well. The thing to understand going into the show is that the imagination will get a workout here due to the simple sets, so it is important to pay attention as the story unfolds. Lyttle does a good job here and has good chemistry with Andrew Malone’s Mister, and the effectiveness of that relationship can truly make or break the experience. I am glad this works well, especially surrounded by a good supporting cast.
Compared to another venue where I saw “The Color Purple: The Musical” before, the stage at the Winspear is a bit smaller, but for me that did not make that much of a difference. No matter how many times (and formats) I get a chance to experience this story, it still works for me and conveys to the stage that does not pander to its audience in a way that makes things too simplistic. There are some adult themes as part of the story that are not covered in the film version, so be aware of that as I recommend it as a second-level seating option.
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