‘Color Purple’: A powerful message

Sisters Celie (Dayna Jarae Dantzler) and Nettie (Traci Allen)


The Color Purple

roared into San Jose with the force of 50 21-gun salutes going
off at one time. San Francisco’s own Alice Walker, author of the
Pulitzer Prize winning

The Color Purple

novel, was lauded by an appreciative audience. The original
Broadway musical opened Dec. 1, 2005 and was nominated for 11 Tony
Awards, including Best Musical.
“The Color Purple” roared into San Jose with the force of 50 21-gun salutes going off at one time. San Francisco’s own Alice Walker, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning “The Color Purple” novel, was lauded by an appreciative audience. The original Broadway musical opened Dec. 1, 2005 and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. “The Color Purple” ran for more than two years on Broadway.

This story covers more than 40 years in the life of a woman with an indomitable sense of faith, spirit and goodness developed from a horribly abused, browbeaten young girl to an empowered woman with pride and independence. The plot moves at a pace so fast that our heroine starts as a 14-year-old and by the end of the first act she is in her late 30s. Celie ages before our eyes by the minute. Anyone who hasn’t read the novel or seen the movie will have difficulty following the rapidly moving musical plot.

The powerful cast creates spectacular moments that shine and glitter with Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephan Bray’s gospel, blues and pop score. Donald Byrd’s inventive choreography takes us on wild fantasy trips to other continents. Gary Griffin directs with the deftness of an artist who must finish his masterpiece immediately – with a few soft moments to slow down and catch the sunbeams of his creativity. John Lee Beatty’s sets, Brian MacDevitt’s lighting, Craig Cassidy’s sound design and Paul Tazewell’s costumes are artistic perfection.

The entire cast is amazing. There are no weak links here. Some are from the original Broadway production and are a joy to take in the dedication they give to their roles.

Dayna Jarae Dantzler, as Celie, is the ultimate artist; her voice is huge and her acting impeccable. Pam Trotter, as the bombastic Sofia, is superb. Taprena Augustine is the ultimate Shug. De Aun Parker, Virlinda Stanton and Nesha Ward, as the gossiping church ladies of the town, lighten the scenes when the plot gets too heavy.

Considering the story covers incest, child abuse, domestic violence and racial injustice – and it’s a musical – make the wonder of how well the adaptation works even more remarkable. The second act ties up all the loose ends and leaves the audience with a feeling of contentment and satisfaction and the knowledge that somehow a complicated story with music has blended into an enjoyable moment in the theatre.

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