I first saw The Color Purple back in 2005 when, as I remember, it starred a refrigerator and washing machine, not to mention La Chanze, and I panned it. I, therefore did not look forward to seeing it again even if the Producers were going to trot out Jennifer Hudson to make sure the show would sell tickets.
Well Jennifer’s very good but the rest of the show is way better than I could have imagined. And (cliché expected) a star is born by the name of Cynthia Erivo, who as Celie, a poor undereducated 14 year old black girl who works her way up the social ladder and ends up as a wealthy land owner and fabulous designer of colorful slacks is awesome.
The story which is way more confusing than I dare to get into and features so many marriages and trials and tribulations of at least 20 intertwined characters, is not why you should come to see this show. In addition, with the exception of a gaggle of chairs which the cast removes from the back, there is no scenery, props or a glimpse of a production number. In fact there’s hardly an orchestra BUT, honestly, the music and lyrics by Allee Willis and Stephen Bray are lovely.
Also along for the two hour 20 minute, 2 act show at the Bernard Jacobs Theater, are Danielle Brooks as Sophia, who you will remember plays Taystee in Orange Is the New Black, Isaiah Jonson as “Mister” one of her husbands and Kyle Scatliffe as Harpo as one of her many sons.
Now all this description probably sounds like it could be pretty dull and certainly not a musical you would ever want to see. To answer that I can only say that to have an opportunity to see Miss Erivio in The Color Purple will be one of the best theater-going experiences you will ever have. Who needs a refrigerator!