BWW Review: THE COLOR PURPLE in Jackson - Too Beautiful for Words
Just how far would you take sisterly devotion? Would you be willing to take years in a loveless marriage, with a man who believes that the way to get a woman to do whatever he wants her to is to beat her, after already spending years being assaulted by your own father? That's exactly how Miss Celie spends much of her life, in hopes that her sister, Nettie, doesn't have to. Brought to Jackson's Thalia Mara Hall as part of their Jackson Live! Series, The Color Purple's national tour brought those questions, and many more, to mind on November 14th and 15th.
Based on the novel written by Alice Walker and the motion picture by the Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment, The Color Purple features a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The tour, presented by Troika Entertainment, LLC, features direction and musical staging by John Doyle. The production tells the story of a young colored girl whose entire life has been wrought with hardship and tragedy, from unconsensually incestrous children ripped away from her at birth to a life of being treated as though she's a slave in her hateful, abusive husband's home.
Mariah Lyttle (Celie) takes the audience on a journey wrought with emotion from the moment she delivers and is forced to give up her second child ("Somebody Gonna Love You") to the closing number, in which she reflects on the life she's lived and thanks God for the things he gives even when life is at its most difficult, and for returning her sister and children to her safely ("The Color Purple (Reprise)"). With a voice that surely demands attention on its own, and rightly so, her harmonies with Nashka Desrosiers (Nettie, Celie's beloved sister) and Sandie Lee (Shug Avery) are sublime. Lee's performance as Shug is equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching, bringing many to tears with her performance of "Too Beautiful for Words" and "The Color Purple". Andrew Malone (Mister) is as talented as his character is cruel, masterfully playing the villain that you'd like to get rid of while still making you want him to keep singing. It's Chédra Arielle (Sofia) that steals the show several times throughout the performance, with her bold, hilarious, mold-breaking approach to marriage during the early/mid-1900s.
With a cast stacked with talent, a unique and incredible score, and a story that's still relevant today, this is a must-see production that cannot be recommended highly enough. See the link below to find a full tour itinerary and links to purchase tickets!