I was one of the lucky audience members in attendance for The Color Purple on Broadway, and what a wonderful time it was. I was brought to tears multiple times in the show. I laughed at the jokes and I couldn’t help but move my feet to the rhythmic music. It was heaven.
The first thing I noticed were the chairs that made the set. Everything was completely wooden. There was a huge two-story wooden wall covered in wooden chairs that would later be taken off the wall by members of the cast and serve as some of the only props in the entire show. The set itself was simplistic in its appearance, but simple is not the adjective that I would use to describe this show. In fact, it was far from it. I would say the minimalistic set is what makes the show so great. Often times we can be distracted by the spectacle of Broadway, but this production strips it bare. Focusing on the relationships between characters, the songs and the message that the musical is trying to tell us. As a theatre buff and a teacher I can appreciate getting to the heart of something.
There are also some noticeable changes to the 2005 production and some additions made that were approved by Alice Walker, so if you watched the 2005 Broadway run or the film expect there to be some differences.
Also, can I just take a minute to talk about Cynthia Erivo as “Celie”? Okay, I will. This woman puts her heart and soul into this role and bears it all on the stage. From the hair to the clothes to some of the acting choices she makes, she is enchantingly believable. You cry when she cries, you dance when she dances, and you laugh when she laughs. And that voice? The minute the entire audience heard Ms. Erivo sing, I knew I was going to GET MY LIFE! And she carried that feeling throughout the night. I know I won’t be the only one to say this, but Cynthia Erivo is a STAR in the making over here, her Broadway debut has been nothing short of wonderful. Of course she is fully supported by the rest of the cast. In her Broadway debut, Danielle Brooks truly shines as the no nonsense Sofia. She brings charm and humor to the character and absolutely kills “Hell No!” Speaking of Broadway debuts, it’s no secret Jennifer Hudson can sing and that hasn’t changed with her sultry performance as “Shug Avery”!
Isaiah Johnson as “Mister,” Joaquina Kalukango as “Nettie” and Kyle Scatliffe as “Harpo” also shine in their roles. Kyle and Danielle’s chemistry is unmatched. The ensemble cast ( Phoenix Best, Dwayne Clark, Lawrence Clayton, Carrie Compere, Patrice Covington, Adrianna Hicks, Bre Jackson, Grasan Kingsberry, Kevyn Morrow, Ken Robinson, Antoine L. Smith, Carla R. Stewart, Akron Watson and Rema Webb) is just as talented and it altogether makes The Color Purple an unforgettable experience.
The Color Purple opens December 10th at the Bernard B. Jacobs theatre in New York City, tickets can be purchased here.