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By WWNY TV 7 Craig Thornton
Craig Thornton 

The Color Purple - Broadway Review

 

Last updated 2/5/2016 at 5:39pm | View PDF

The Color Purple

Rarely have I been to a Broadway show where the audience has reacted so strongly,

so emotionally than at the revival of The Color Purple currently running at the Bernard

B. Jacobs Theatre. This revival, envisioned by British director John Doyle is an exhilarating

experience. Pared down from the original, flashier, "bigger" show that was the

original production 10 years ago, with minimum sets and gimmicks this production

relies on performers, music and the emotional movement of the story and it works

miraculously well. British actress Cynthia Erivo is fantastic as Celie; there is without a doubt a Tony nomination

in her future. Her anthemic solo in the second act, "I'm Here" had the audience on their feet, yelling

bravo, before the show was even over. Erivo is a revelatory powerhouse, commanding the stage and she

understands the character and material deeply and can belt out songs with incredible emotional resonance.

It's a performance you won't soon forget.

Erivo's performance is even more impressive because she shares the stage with superstar Oscar winner,

Jennifer Hudson in her Broadway debut. Hudson plays Shug Avery the sexy night club singer siren. Hudson

reportedly felt uncomfortable with the role at first, because Shug is considered sexy and Jennifer was never

cast this way before. Hudson doesn't disappoint; she is a powerhouse singer and magnetic as Celie's first

ally whose love finally gives Celie self-esteem that forges a path to Celie's emancipation from Mister (Isaiah

Johnson). Hudson won an Oscar in Dreamgirls because of her ability to convey character and emotionality at

the same time. That's exactly what she does here, giving Shug vitality and moxie, yet vulnerability. Danielle

Brooks gives a brassy, earthy performance as Mister's defiant, in charge, daughter-in-law, Sofia. All three

women embody an element of empowerment, yet they are distinctively different. This is both a testament to

the material (novel by Alice Walker, playbook by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell,

Allee Willis and Stephen Bray) and to director John Doyle.

 

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