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We Were There: The Color Purple on Broadway

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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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.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

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    TY

    December 15, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    An absolutely stunning production! Those voices were jaw-dropping, and Cynthia Erivo better have a speech ready for June

  2. Pingback: Color Purple Cast Album Coming Soon

  3. Pingback: Broadway Black Approved: The Productions You Should See in 2016

  4. Pingback: Grasan Kingsberry: A Man Called to Dream, Create, & Love - BroadwayBlack.com

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Broadway said “What Blackout?!” and Took Their Talents Outside

Broadway Black

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The power went clean out in most of Manhattan on Saturday night. The Broadway League released a statement saying most of the shows were canceled and that the power should be restored before the following Sunday matinee. That did end up happening but right after the blackout happened casts of Broadway shows took to the streets to offer up their voices in song to the delight of the many people in the streets who were evacuated from the Broadway houses and neighboring establishments.

Take a look at what shows popped off in the streets of midtown Manhattan!

    1. Of course, Tony Award Winner André De Shields snaps off with the cast of Hadestown at the Walter Kerr Theatre

2. The cast of Aint Too Proud singing Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” to someone in the crowd from their dressing room windows at the Imperial Theatre. The tweet with the video it’s the cast of Hamilton but twitter did its thing and they quickly corrected them. It was an honest mistake, Hamilton is right next door.)

3. The cast of Come From Away:

4. The cast of Waitress:

5. The cast of Frozen:

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Just Wow!

West Side Story’s Cool Reimagined by Los York Studios And It’s Pretty… Cool!

Broadway Black

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Photo: Youtube

As described in their mission statement, Los York is “an integrated production company that executes live action, design, and experimental projects.” An older project of the company resurfaced recently, a reimagined rendition of West Side Story‘s “Cool” scene, is now circulating throughout the internet. The Emmy Award winner and director of the video, Seth Epstein has brilliantly captured the story of rivalry within two different ethnic groups, but this time with more melanin!

The video also features music by Jimek (Run the World Dave Aude Club Remix), and choreography by Keone and Mari Madrid (SYTYCD).

The electrifying footwork, where pirouettes are replaced with pop locking and break dancing in the place of battements, provides hope for bridging racial gaps and relieving tensions. This style is more interpretive, with urban based movements that add an extra layer to some of the barriers printed in the original 1957 production.One thing that I appreciate about the classic musical West Side Story is its transcendent nature and ability to comfortably conform to whatever generation of interest.

Above all else, West Side Story is a love story, a modernized interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The timelessness in the modernized story–tension between two lovers of opposite gangs–reveals past and present issues found in American society however old and reoccurring they may be. The Los York video demonstrates that flexibility and once again creates an even bigger space for a fabulous classic.

Watch for yourself!

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