Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at New Village Arts

Running through July 21st

By: Jul. 03, 2024
Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at New Village Arts
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“The Color Purple” brings Alice Walker’s novel of the same name to life with wonderful musical numbers, a talented cast, and a lot of love is playing at New Village Arts through July 21st.

The musical starts with a sweet moment between sisters Celie (Nio Russell) and Nettie (Taylor Renee Henderson) playing a game before heading to church.  From there, the full 17-member cast breaks into a high-energy and beautifully sung gospel number “Mysterious Ways.” While the church ladies (Destiny Denny, Juanita Harris, and Kiara Hudlin) trade gossip from behind their fans and become a Greek chorus, setting the scene.

Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at New Village Arts
Nio Russell as Celie

Celie is 14, pregnant, and has to take care of the house and the family including their menacing and abusive “Pa” (Kevane La’Marr Coleman), while Nettie goes to school and dreams of being a teacher.  Mister (Kirk Brown) a nearby farmer comes over and wants to marry Nettie, but Pa refuses and instead trades him, Celie, along with a cow.  Mister is mercurial and mean, and when Nettie refuses his advances he banishes her and forbids Celie from ever seeing her again. 

When Mister's son Harpo (Kingsley Jackson) brings his smart and assertive girlfriend Sofia (Erin Vanderhyde Gross the night I saw it, usually played by Eboni Muse) who offers Celie an example of a woman who will not be intimidated.

When singer Shug Avery (Hadiyyah Noelle) comes back to town and as the lost love of MIster, is welcomed back to the house by him with Celie to wait on her.  Celie finds a friendship and love with Shug, which ultimately helps her find out what happened to her sister Nettie.

Russell as Celie is wonderfully open and vulnerable, with a fantastic singing voice. Her Celie is quiet and optimistic, no matter what hardships are thrown at her, and her moments of quiet give way as Celie finds her voice and purpose, with her strong belt, as showcased in her standout number ‘I’m Here.”

Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at New Village Arts
Eboni Muse, Kingsely Jackson, and Jasmine January 

Other standouts are Noelle as the funny and earthy Shug, Vanderhyde Gross as the fiercely independent Sofia, and Jackson as Harpo who is torn between his desire to please his father and his love for Sofia.  Henderson is warm as Nettie, Jasmine January is sweet as Squeak a waitress in Harpo’s bar, and Harris shines with solo moments as a church lady.

The story has plenty of darker plot points and while they are not shied away from, Director Kandace Crystal wisely doesn’t stop too long to dwell on them.  Instead, this show has a joyful energy and is filled with love - the love of sisters, community, female friendships, lovers, and loving yourself. This allows the show to acknowledge the abuse, but focus instead on the the love and hope without feeling glib.

The musical director Leigh Scarritt worked with the performers and the music to create lovely full ensemble and standout solo musical moments.  Choreography by Alyssa “Ajay” Junious uses the space well and is especially effective in “Big Dog” as Celie is introduced to life on Mister’s farm.

Lighting by Kevin “Blax” Burroughs is beautifully colorful and vibrant which allows for silhouetted moments, and works well with the changeable scenic design by Reiko Huffman. Costumes by Janet Pitcher are strong, especially the pants in Act Two with colorful African kente cloth accents which are not just a key plot point and are fashionable in the show but would be cute to wear off stage as well. 

“The Color Purple” is an entertaining and inspiring show about healing and finding power in yourself through love and community.

How To Get Tickets  

“The Color Purple” is playing at New Village Arts through July 21st. For ticket and showtime information go to 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Daren Scott and New Village Arts


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