Five Reasons to See The Color Purple on Broadway Immediately
The Color Purple, a musical revival adapted from Alice Walker’s iconic novel, opened December 10 at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Starring Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson, the show is one of the buzziest of the season, and we landed tickets on the final night of previews. Here are five things we loved about The Color Purple.
The dynamic audience
This is not a staid audience experience. Many people know the story and the music, and they sing along to the play’s songs. During our performance, a particularly lively group of women was engaged from the very first chords, and expressed their opinions duly with cheerful waves and “mmm hmmms.”
Broadway’s new “Dreamgirls”
The entire cast of this Broadway show is phenomenal, but Hudson, Erivo and Orange is the New Black star Danielle Brooks stand out. Erivo has a powerful voice and an impressive range, reaching low notes and high notes with apparent ease. Hudson’s portrayal of Shug Avery, meanwhile, is spot on—unsurprising from the R&B star whose Grammy- and Academy Award-winning career has combined acting and singing from the very beginning. Brooks turns the supporting role of strong-willed Sophia into one of the show’s most popular characters: She received as loud an ovation as Hudson and Erivo. This marks the Broadway debut of all three leading ladies, but you would not know it from watching.
The minimal staging
In director John Doyle’s revival of “The Color Purple,” he decided to rely more on the audience’s imagination than actual stage props. Instead, the staging is minimal: a simple wooden stage with tattered frames and hanging chairs. It felt as though we were reading the book all over again, creating the scenery for ourselves. We especially loved the use of simple props such as African print fabric to represent a scene’s shift to Africa.
The chills and goosebumps
The triumphant moment that Celie realizes her worth and that she is more than enough gave us chills, as Erivo delivered a touching performance of “I’m Here.” And then there was Hudson and Erivo’s duet, “What about Love,” which ended with the two in an embrace—and the audience in tears.
The play touches on topics still relevant today
The Color Purple takes place in 1930s Georgia, and touches on issues such as racism, sexism, abuse and gender roles—hot-button topics in the United States and much of the world. We couldn’t help but reflect on these points once the play finished, as the audience (and conversation) spilled onto the sidewalks of New York City.
Currently, there is no closing date for The Color Purple, but we urge you to catch this all-star cast as soon as you can.