BWW Review: Broadway Records' THE COLOR PURPLE (New Broadway Cast Recording) is Powerfully Enchanting
It seems like just yesterday The Color Purple was originally premiering on Broadway, now it's critically lauded revival is currently impressing audiences eight times a week at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York City. The show is one of Broadway's most popular shows, making tickets somewhat scarce. So, if you're like me, you haven't been able to see it. Luckily, Broadway Records has recorded the revival cast and released The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording).
Unfortunately, I never saw the original production directed by Gary Griffin, but that cast's album simply did not capture my imagination. Yet, Broadway Record's revival album is stunningly beautiful in its simplicity. John Doyle's goal with the current production was to create a more grassroots production of The Color Purple, and The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording) is a testament to that goal.
This album is a beautiful capture of Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray's vibrant score. The reduced orchestra (not that the original had a large one to being with) perfectly creates music that sounds as if it is pulled from the red dirt of Georgia. All the grit and emotion of spirituals and gospel music is tangible in the instrumentation. Then, above this rich tapestry, the cast lends their powerful and evocative voices to make this album truly compelling.
Across the recording, Cynthia Erivo delights as Celie. Her warm vocals shine every times she sings, and she easily manipulates the heart of the listener. She makes numbers like "What About Love," "Miss Celie's Pants," and "I'm Here" memorable showtunes that theater fans will cherish for years to come. As Shug, Jennifer Hudson's voice sparkles on the recording. Her hearty alto is full of sensuality and sass on "Push Da Button," and her instrument is lush on "What About Love" and "The Color Purple." Joaquina Kalukango's Nettie is sung with resplendent heart, ensuring "Our Prayer" and "African Homeland" are beautiful tracks.
Yet, the album's biggest surprise comes from Danielle Brooks' signing as Sofia. Every single time she sings, she steals the show. She pristinely delivers the album's most unforgettable moment - "Hell No!." She opens the song with a fierce wail, taking the record to a fever pitch. Throughout that track and the rest of the recording, Brooks skillfully creates a woman who refuses to back down. Her strength is layered into every note and line delivery present on the album, making her purposeful performance stunning.
Before hearing The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording), this show was on my must see list. The album makes me want to see it even more. After listening to this enchanting record there is no doubt that magic is happening nightly in the Jacobs Theatre.
Broadway Records released The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording) on February 19, 2016. It can be purchased from Broadway Record's online store, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold. For tickets and more information about The Color Purple on Broadway, please visit http://colorpurple.com/.