Rob Reviews "The Color Purple: The Musical"
“The Color Purple: The Musical” has made its way back around to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, this time playing at the Winspear Opera House. If you have been around with us long enough, you may recall my feelings on seeing it at a different venue the first time was not seen as enjoyable in most aspects, so this time around there was a bit of apprehension as I took my seat and the lights went down.
Winning the 2006 Tony Award for Best Revival (which oddly enough is one more award than its film version won after eleven nominations), this is the familiar story of sisters Celie (Mariah Lyttle) and Nettie (Nashka Desrosiers) whom are separated after Celie is given to Mister (Andrew Malone) and the path of darkness and redemption Celie must take. With the stage production, the story lacks any of the scenery or set pieces in order to tell the story that relies heavily on the cast and their performances to fill in the gaps.
The first thing that I noticed this go around is the difference in size between the Winspear and where I went previously. For the first time in my stage reviewing career, I was able to see that this venue’s stage is quite a bit smaller than its predecessor, and I actually think for this production that is a good thing. Having less real estate to work with benefits “The Color Purple” by giving me a more closed-in sense of what Celie was going through, and Lyttle’s performance brings all of the feels that grabbed a hold of me and didn’t let go. Rivaling that of “American Idol” alumnus Sandie lee as Mister’s object of affection in Shug Avery, these two alone filled up the entire auditorium with sound, power, fury, and finesse that is also mirrored by an extremely strong cast top to bottom. With multiple cast members playing multiple roles, there was never a time where I saw them beyond what they were doing at that exact moment, which is a great compliment to everyone involved.
There was a bit of a music to vocal mix issue with the former being lower than the latter in the mix itself, but the orchestra itself does a great job making sure to help keep things moving along. Compared to how I felt my first time through with this musical, if that is the worst thing about the production for me, this is a HUGE improvement.
Maybe I was in a different mood at the time or maybe simply it was because I knew what to expect going into it this time around, “The Color Purple: The Musical” is truly a great evening to spend at the theater. Understand that as much as the film is not for the whole family, there IS subject matter here not dealt with on the big screen that reinforces the fact that this is an adult-oriented story, so keep that in mind as you mull over your entertainment options. Even with that, make sure to put it on your list!