Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Shea's 710 Theatre

The production runs through October 1, 2023.

By: Sep. 16, 2023
Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Shea's 710 Theatre

Something magical is happening at Shea's 710 Theatre. And it's a joy to report that the local talent onstage is simply astounding. Along with the Ujima Theatre Company and Second Generation Theatre, Shea's is producing a spine-tingling production of the musical THE COLOR PURPLE.

After last season's successful ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, it should come as no surprise that the talent pool in Western New York was up for another challenge. And the casting for THE COLOR PURPLE is just about as good as it gets anywhere.

Director Sarah Norat Phillips, Musical Director Karen Saxon, and Choreographer Naila Ansari all have put their vast talents to work with an exceptional cast. With a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russel, Alee Willis, and Stephen Bray, this musical does great justice to the original novel by Alice Walker. To say nothing of the great film starring Oprah Winfrey.

Winfrey's name has become so attached to this title that she is producing the motion picture of the musical set for release this holiday season.

Gabriella McKinley is Celie, the young woman who is repeatedly raped by her stepfather and given away to marry an abusive husband,  simply called Mister. The time is 1909 in Georgia, and a state still feeling the pangs of slavery is also no place for women. They are still treated as commodities, beaten, raped, and abused physically and mentally. After Celie's two babies are given away, she is led to a life of servitude, separated from her only sister, Nettie.

Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Shea's 710 Theatre

The church forms a framework for these indentured women, with three Church Ladies commenting on the action. And what a powerhouse of women they are-- Latosha  Jennings, Danielle N. Green and Tammy Wilder can sing to the rafters and are a force to be reckoned with.

Ms. McKinley builds a character from teenage years to adult with an inner sense of fear that morphs into confidence. Her voice is strong and determination is palpable. She shows a deep desire for love, albeit in unconventional circumstances as she falls for another woman. Enter Jetaun Louie as the chanteuse, Shug Avery.

Shug has a bad reputation as a loose woman and a history with Mister. Ms. Louie is tall and glamorous, with a voice as smooth as silk with some power behind it. Her "Too Beautiful for Words" was spellbinding and she tore up the house with the "Push The Button."

George L. Brown as Mister was strong and intimidating. He's the kind of character you love to hate. His "Mister Song" revealed some inner demons and Brown handled it with ease.

Mister's son Harpo is played by Brian Brown. This slight man found great humor in his role along with a lovely singing voice. His wife Sophia is a juicy role and Curtis Lovell nearly stole the show every time she was onstage. Lovell commanded authority and had an inner star power that you rooted for.  Meanwhile, the wiry little Nathania Sampaio as Harpo's girlfriend Squeak was equally as funny and feisty.  The physical contrast in size and personality of Harpo's love interests made for some great comedy.

Anika Pace as sister Nettie was a lovely guiding and angelic force for Celie's miserable existence. Pace served as a motherly figure, oozing love and concern for her sister.

The simple but effective set by Chris Cavanagh employed projections to fill the large stage. Costumes by Jenna Damberger were spot on, drab when needed, and colorful as the action shifted to Africa.

The large cast was made of up young and old playing multiple roles, all handling  Ansari's rhythmic choreography deftly. The men shined in  "Brown Betty" while the women had some nice comic relief with "In Miss Celie's Pants."

The four-piece band gave a full sound that was aided by Nicholas Quinn's fine sound design.

THE COLOR PURPLE shows what can be achieved when multi-talented artists are given the proper budget to put on high-quality productions. Yes, the talent here deserves all the resources, rehearsal time, and budget given to them. Buffalo needs this level of local theatre and has proven again that there is an audience ready and waiting. Happily, the wait was worth it. This show was an uplifting triumph.

The COLOR PURPLE plays at Shea's 710 Theatre through October 1, 2023. Visit the link below for tickets and information.


BroadwayWorld Awards Voting

RELATED STORIES - Buffalo

1
BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards December 5th Standings; RANKED Leads Best Musical! Photo
BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards December 5th Standings; RANKED Leads Best Musical!

It's December, and the first standings of the month have been announced as of Tuesday, December 5th for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards! Don't miss out on making sure that your favorite theatres, stars, and shows get the recognition they deserve!

2
Chautauqua Theater Company to Present World Premiere Of Kate Hamills THE LIGHT AND THE DAR Photo
Chautauqua Theater Company to Present World Premiere Of Kate Hamill's THE LIGHT AND THE DARK

Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC) announces the world premiere of Kate Hamill’s play, 'The Light and The Dark.' The play explores the transformative power of art and female rage in reshaping societal paradigms.

3
Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards; THE GOLDEN GIRLS THE Photo
Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards; THE GOLDEN GIRLS THE LOST EPISODES Leads Best Play!

Happy Holidays! The latest wave of standings have been announced as of Monday, November 27th for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards! Don't miss out on making sure that your favorite theatres, stars, and shows get the recognition they deserve!

4
Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards; RANKED Leads Best Mu Photo
Latest Standings Announced For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards; RANKED Leads Best Musical!

The latest wave of standings have been announced as of Monday, November 20th for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Buffalo Awards! Don't miss out on making sure that your favorite theatres, stars, and shows get the recognition they deserve!

From This Author - Michael Rabice

Michael Rabice has over  40 years of experience attending plays, musicals and opera all over the world. He is a frequent performer in opera and has appeared with the Glimmerglass Opera, Artp... Michael Rabice">(read more about this author)

Videos


Les Miserables in Buffalo Les Miserables
Shea's Performing Arts Center (3/12-3/17)
Funny Girl in Buffalo Funny Girl
Shea's Performing Arts Center (2/13-2/18)
The Man Who Came to Dinner in Buffalo The Man Who Came to Dinner
The Company Theatre (12/07-12/17)
Ain't Too Proud in Buffalo Ain't Too Proud
Auditorium Theatre (1/30-2/04)
The Cher Show (Non-Equity) in Buffalo The Cher Show (Non-Equity)
Clemens Center for the Performing Arts (2/07-2/08)
Annie (Non-Equity) in Buffalo Annie (Non-Equity)
Auditorium Theatre (12/12-12/17)
When Worlds Collide in Buffalo When Worlds Collide
American Repertory Theater of WNY (12/07-12/23)
Annie (Non-Equity) in Buffalo Annie (Non-Equity)
Warner Theatre (2/14-2/15)
Hairspray (Non-Equity) in Buffalo Hairspray (Non-Equity)
Warner Theatre (1/10-1/11)
New Play Reading Festival Vol. 1 in Buffalo New Play Reading Festival Vol. 1
Canterbury Woods Performing Arts Center (12/08-12/10)
VIEW ALL SHOWS  ADD A SHOW  

Recommended For You