BWW Previews: VIOLET makes musical debut through New Tampa Players at University Area CDC
Coming to stage at University Area CDC is a lesser known musical production called Violet. Violet tells the story of a young disfigured woman who embarks on a journey by bus from her farm in Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma in order to be healed.
"The message of the show is about diversity, how people see each other and accept each other. No matter what they still have a connection and love," explained co-director Frank Stinehour.
Musically directed by G. Frank Meekins, Violet stars Brianna Filippelli, Olivia Carr, Cody Carlson, Matthew Melinas, Natasha McKellar, Chelsea Orvis, Leanne Ferguson, Charis Lavoie, Alexis Jones, Ryan Farnworth, Alex Alfonso, Devan Kelty, Scott Hartman, and James Cass.
"Everyone should come see this show, especially people who are interested in lesser known theatre," said co-director Nora Paine. "If you want to do lesser known theatre, you have to support it."
She said they were looking for shows that offered diversity, different ages and races and Violet was the perfect example. When submitted as one of three musicals voted on by theatre volunteers, the show won by a landslide.
Set in the South, circa 1964, Violet meets and becomes a traveling companion with two soldiers, one black and one white.
Twelve-year-old Olivia plays the younger Violet and her favorite song is Brianna's "All the Pieces."
"It's a really fun song to sing, and to watch the character come to life and try to picture herself as all these different people fit into one," she said.
Brianna who plays the eldest version of Violet says the finale will absolutely blow the audience away.
"The harmonies and everything come together in the end and it's an absolutely breath-taking song."
Frank agreed and added, "At the same time, the opening number "On My Way" just brings you into the show, making you feel welcome and comfortable and the finale takes you out, making you feel like you were a part of something. "
Nora stressed that although this is not a well-known musical, it a show that actors really wanted to perform.
She said, "There are shows that reliably draw an audience, and they come back over and over because theatres need audiences. There are also great shows that are not so well known-- shows that you'd love to be in, see or work on-- and those shows need champions and people who will take a chance. People who want to see or be a part of less common shows should take a chance on Violet. Champion theater that you want to experience."
Frank said that people will be talking about how relatable the characters were on the drive home.
"I think they'll be talking about how they related in different ways to the different characters - whether it was being a geek or a big person in high school and how people treated them. Then there's that one person who no matter what still treated them fairly, still treated them like a human being and they'll never forget that person."
New Tampa Players' Violet, in collaboration with the University Area CDC and produced with the support of the Hillsborough County Arts Council and Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners and support from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, runs Friday, October 19 - 28 at the University Area CDC: 14013 N. 22nd Street, Tampa. Showtimes are Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 2pm & 8pm, and Sundays 2pm. Tickets are available at http://www.newtampaplayers.org/ and at the door.