This Production of The Color Purple: The Musical is Amazing!
For the ten of you in America who don’t know the story, The Color Purple follows the tumultuous life of a country girl named Celie (Cesili Williams) as she suffers physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father and husband, only to miraculously land in a place of peace and self-love.
Having just given birth to her second child, Celie’s father, Pa (Corey Jones) wastes no time ripping the child from her arms. Undaunted by the fact that her children were the product of incestuous rape, Celie clings to the hope that her babies are safe until the day she can finally be reunited with them. Her soulmate, young sister Nettie (Kelly M. Jenrette) is the coveted pretty girl of the two. Despite repeated requests from a local farmer Mister (Michael A. Shepperd), Pa will only allow him to marry Celie. Alas the sisters are separated.
Without Celie to protect her, Pa soon makes sexual advances on Nettie, who seeks refuge with her sister at Mister’s. But the sisters find that Nettie has left one bad situation for another of the exact same kind with Mister. Enraged by her rejection Mister throws Nettie out and forbids Celie to ever touch the mailbox to look for letters form her.
Years pass. Celie raises Mister’s children, keeps his house in order, and submissively performs every and all“wifely” duties that Mister demands, never questioning or rebelling; that is, until two women enter Celie’s life and give her a whole new outlook. Mister’s oldest son Harpo (Terrance Spencer), marries a plus sized, iron-willed Sofia (Constance Jewell Lopez). The fallen preacher’s daughter, notorious singer Shug Avery (LaToya London) comes to town, sending the man-folk in a flutter. Ultimately, Shug end up staying with Mister, where she and Celie become great friends, and more. Empowered by the new generation of women around her, can Celie find her voice, and the strength to emerge from under Mister’s tyrannical thumb?
The answer: Hell YES!
The avalanche of accolades that I could bestow upon this production is as staggering as it is apropos. Seriously, I hardly know where to begin.
The all-volunteer ensemble infuse every moment of the production with exubrance and joy. Leading lady Cesili Williams’ performance is beyond inspired. She takes the character of Celie on a moving, transformative arch from cowering willow to a beautiful, strong African violet. In voice and dramatic performance, she is simply remarkable. LaToya London’s Shug Avery, around around the edges songbird, is as vulnerable as she is strong and magically convey’s that inner conflict with every note she sings. Likewise, Michael A. Shepperd’s Mister is frightening and cold, yet credibly eases his character onto the road to redemption. The trio of Church Ladies (Sixx Carter, Lorie V. Moore & Brittney S. Wheeler) served as a brilliantly performed travelling, transitional peanut gallery, hilarious in three part harmony. The production’s company of men does a particularly fine job in performing multiple male roles throughout show. WELL DONE!
To call Michael Matthews’ direction masterful would be a gross understatement. The staging never felt compromised by the size of the performance space, nor the performances muted. In fact, this show has Celebration bursting at the seams. Choreographer Janet Roston deftly traffics the largest company I have ever seen in Celebration’s 18’ x 20’ performance space. Especially impressive dance numbers included Act II’s "Push Da Button," “Big Dog” (love me a great Steppin’ routine) and the exquisitely intricate "African Homeland". Musical Director Gregory Nabours has crafted singing performances that are rich with character and emotion, as well as pitch perfect, to say nothing of the high invisible task of conducting the pic orchestra. Every musical theatre buff appreciates an overture. Thank You!
I saw the Broadway production of The Color Purple: The Musical a few years back and I have to confess that I was really suspicious as to how they were going to pull off such a huge production as this. And now I have to confess: I need to stop being surprised at the amazing feats they keep pulling off. Celebration Theatre continues to raise the bar for SoCal's numerous intimate theatre spaces.
This production of The Color Purple: The Musical is a spectacular accomplishment - a true musical theatre event. It stands of the golden example of the deeply visceral experience that came only be had through live theatre. SO SEE THIS SHOW!
The Color Purple: The Musical is running for a limited engagement through May 26, 2012 at:
7051-B Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90038
Ticket Information: (323) 957-1884