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Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at The Muny

Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at The Muny

Plays The Muny in Forest Park through August 9th

THE COLOR PURPLE, the 2005 musical adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel make its Muny debut this week in Forest Park. Adapted for the stage by Marsha Norman, with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, THE COLOR PURPLE tells the story of Celie and her life-long struggles living in the south during the early 1900s. The score features varied styles of music including jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues.

The singing in The Muny's THE COLOR PURPLE soars above Forest Park like the birds in the historic 1904 bird cage in the St. Louis Zoo. In this resplendent production Anastacia McCleskey (Celie), Nasia Thomas (Nettie), Tracee Beazer (Shug Avery), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Sofia), Gilbert Domally (Harpo), Evan Tyrone Martin (Mister), and the entire ensemble engulf the expansive Muny space with magnificent vocal performances.

McClesky's performance as Celie spans decades transforming from a frighted abused child to a proud, beautiful human. Her gorgeous singing, signaling her inner beauty as a young girl, is requisite juxtaposition to the harsh abuse she suffers at the hands of her father and her husband. Her rich and beautiful voice foreshadows her ultimate redemption. When Celie's transformation comes full circle at the end of the Second Act, McClesky has a moment with "I'm Here." But that moment isn't just felt by the character, it becomes a goosebump inducing moment for the entire theater. Her redemption complete. She has survived and she shares that victory with the entire audience.

This Muny production of THE COLOR PURPLE is too beautiful for words. It is a stunning love letter to Alice Walker and her epistolary novel of redemption. Director Lili-Anne Browne's vison brings to the stage a concert-like version of THE COLOR PURPLE similar to the 2016 Tony Award Winning Broadway revival. Her leadership, coupled with Breon Arzell's spirited choreography, help this epic 40-year story come to life with theatrical sophistication. Music Director Jermaine Hill's perfectly balanced orchestrations were almost unnoticeable while supporting the beautiful score sung by this incomparable company of actors.

The Muny production of THE COLOR PURPLE continues nightly through August 9th. For more information visit muny.org. To purchase tickets visit The Muny Box Office in Forest Park or metrotix.com.




From This Author - James Lindhorst

Jim Lindhorst has been a theater enthusiast for nearly 5-decades. He was bitten by the theater bug as a young teen while sitting in the last row of the upper balcony to see the first national tour of... (read more about this author)


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