BWW Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Paper Mill Playhouse is a Stirring and Powerful Musical

BWW Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Paper Mill Playhouse is a Stirring and Powerful Musical

Paper Mill Playhouse is opening their 80th Anniversary season with a stirring musical production of The Color Purple that features brilliant direction and musical staging by Tony Award winner John Doyle with wonderful musical direction by Darryl Archibald. The show has a remarkable, stellar cast whose acting and vocal talents will take your breath away.

The book for The Color Purple is by Marsha Norman with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The Tony Award-winning revival that electrified Broadway is based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel by the same name. Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment made the story into a film version in 1985 that received widespread critical acclaim and multiple Academy Award nominations.

The emotionally charged tale is set in the early 1900's and depicts some of the dreadful circumstances that African American women were subjected to including poverty, incest, and domestic violence. The story centers on Celie, a young woman who has given up her children, lost touch with her beloved sister, Nettie, and lives with an abusive man, Mister who forces her to work endlessly. Celie's situation and the struggles of the women around her at times seem hopeless, except for the support that they lend to each other. While this portrait of a community exposes some of humankind's worst qualities, it is also tells of hope, faith, love, and redemption. The power and the pride of women are very much a part of this enthralling piece of musical theatre.

BWW Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Paper Mill Playhouse is a Stirring and Powerful Musical

The cast members from the 2015 Broadway revival lead the Paper Mill Playhouse's extraordinary company. They include Adrianna Hicks as Celie; Carla R. Stewart as Shug Avery; and Carrie Compere as Sofia. They are joined on stage by Gavin Gregory as Mister; N'Jameh Camara as Nettie; and Jay Donnell as Harpo. Rounding out the cast are Darnell Abraham, Amar Atkins, Kyle E. Baird, Angela Birchett, Erica Durham, Bianca Horn, Jamal James, Mekhai Lee, Gabrielle Reid, C.E. Smith, Will T. Travis, Nyla Watson, J.D. Webster, Brit West and Nikisha Williams. The entire troupe's compelling performances are touching, spirited, and at times, very humorous.

The Grammy Award winning score has a broad variety of music that draws from the genres of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues. Some of our favorite numbers include "Mysterious Ways" by the Company; "Hell No!" by Sophia and Women; "Brown Betty" by Harpo, Squeak, and Men; "African Homeland" by Nettie, Celie, and Company; "The Color Purple" by Shug and Company; "Miss Celie's Pants" by Celie and Women; and "I'm Here" by Celie. The musical pieces are a perfect complement to the show bringing the characters' struggles and triumphs to life.

BWW Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Paper Mill Playhouse is a Stirring and Powerful Musical

The Creative Team has done a great job of bringing The Color Purple to the Millburn stage. They include scenic design by John Doyle; costume design by Ann Hould Ward; lighting design by Jane Cox; sound design by Dan Moses Schreier; and hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe. The Music Supervisor is Catherine Jayes and orchestrations are by Joseph Joubert. The Production Stage Manage is Melissa Chacon. Casting is by Telsey + Company.

We applaud Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee for gifting metropolitan area audiences with the best in Modern American Theatre. Even if you have seen a rendition of The Color Purple before, Paper Mill Playhouse's outstanding production is one that shouldn't be missed. It's a good time in our society to recognize the strength of women and their ability to rise above even the most painful difficulties. Because of the show's themes, it is suggested for mature audiences.

The Color Purple will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week through October 21, 2018 from Wednesday through Sunday. Audience members will be thrilled by the Playhouse's renovation with its beautiful new interior that was generously funded by the Ferolito family. The performance schedule is Wednesday at 7:30pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:30pm, Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 8:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Groups of 10 or more may receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. Season subscriptions are on sale now and are available by calling 973.379.3717. Students may order $23-$28 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance. Tickets are on sale now starting at $34. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at

Photo Credits: Jerry Dalia and Matthew Murphy

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From This Author Marina Kennedy

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