The Color Purple
Theater West End
Book by Marsha Norman
Music and lyrics by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell, and Allee Willis
The cast and production staff list was not available for this commentary.
It’s not only southern whites that mistreated blacks; their fellows did a good job when they had the opportunity. We find ourselves in the rural south sometime in the early 20th century. Big wheel Albert comes looking for a wife, and he’d prefer the young and attractive Nettie, but her daddy Alphonso won’t sell her. Instead he unloads his less attractive daughter Celie by tossing a cow in on the deal. Albert treats Celie as bad as any slave; she does nothing right or fast enough. He openly sleeps with the exotic singer Shug Avery and conceals the only mail Celie gets from her sister. And then things get nasty. Part soap opera, part social commentary, part slice of life, “The Color Purple” is the sort of complex personal journey that makes for a great entertainment with multiple conflicts, split loyalties, and plenty of good Gospel and Blues music. “Huckleberry Pie” gets things going, but it’s Shug’s jook joint songs I hummed out the door: “To Beautiful for Words” and “Push the Button”. Voices were all strong and well-cast, and the set was simple yet effective
“The Color Purple” makes for challenging opening show in the recently renovated Sanford theater space last occupied by “Dangerous Theater.” There were a few opening night glitches: the sound levels blasted, the cup holders tended to break loose, and the programs didn’t make it to the show on time. But Mr. Critzer put up a great show we all enjoyed, and he’s now a good bit closer to the Orlando audience than his previous venue in Eustis. Take some time to drive up to bustling Sanford, the area is full of dining and drinking opportunities, parking is free, and that darned 17-92 widening project is almost done.