Friday, December 15, 2017

Review of Griffin Theatre Company's Violet

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Violet. The book and lyrics were by Brain Crawley and the music was by Jeanine Tesori. It was based on the "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts. It was directed by Scott Weinstein, the music direction was by John Cockerill, and the choreography was by Kasey Alfonso. It was about a woman named Violet (Nicole Laurenzi) and when she was 13 she got hit in the head with an axe and she has a scar. She is going to a preacher (Anthony Kayer) to get it miraculously removed. She meets two men from the military who really influence her, Monty (Will Lidke) and Flick (Stephen Allen). I think this show was performed really well. Everyone in the show has really amazing voices. I think it was an interesting and unique story.

My favorite song in the show was probably "Raise Me Up." The vocals from Lashera Zenise Moore as Lula were so amazing and she just slayed the entire song. The song is all gospel and everyone in the audience was so drawn into it. They were shouting out how amazing she was. So it felt like a concert. The environment was relaxed and open, so that was fun. I also really liked the songs "Anyone Would Do" and "Lonely Stranger" which were very different songs from "Raise Me Up," but also had great vocals from Brianna Buckley, Sarah Hayes, and Moore. Both of them were very sultry songs about how lonely these women were. None of the other characters paid attention to them while they were singing, which gave it sort of a dark undertone and made them seem more alone. Flick and Violet sang a song together called "Hard To Say Goodbye." They both sounded amazing and the song was heartbreaking. It was sad to hear them say goodbye because you know now is not the right time to say goodbye because they are so angry. It is passive aggressive, the way he is saying it isn't hard to say goodbye, because you can tell it actually is hard.

There were two songs that were centered on the family: "Luck of the Draw" and "On My Way." One was about getting closer to your family and one was about getting away from your family. In "Luck of the Draw" Young Violet (Maya Lou Hlava) learns how to play cards from her father (Matt W. Miles). It is a really cute scene; it is really adorable to see this bonding moment to show how close Violet and her father used to be. At first, he doesn't explain the game very well so that he wins all the time, but eventually she gets the hang of it. Violet is also on stage playing cards with Monty and Flick which shows how much she has learned over the years and is an interesting image. "On My Way" is all about how Violet can't wait to get away and go to a new place that she thinks will solve all her problems. It was also sung by all the rest of the people on the bus who all had the same mission to get away from something. I loved how they use every single voice in this song to sum up what the goal of Violet's story is: to get away and become a new person before she comes back.

There were some choices they made in the show that I found troubling or distracting. They didn't show the scar, which made me keep looking for it, and then when I couldn't find it, I kept looking which distracted me from the story. I know the Broadway production also made this choice, but I still found it strange. It made me think she could be crazy. It seems like they don't trust the audience enough to see the scar and still like the character, which is what all the good people in the show do. I feel like they should have trusted their audience more. I was also troubled by how she didn't want to just take away her scar but change her entire face, which I didn't think was necessary. She was naturally very beautiful. They also seemed to put Flick in the story as this character who is sort of a replacement for a relationship that has just ended for Violet. I think he deserves better than someone who treats him like a rebound. I also don't think it is fair that he has to teach her how to be a better person in relationships and how not to be racist.

People who would like this show are people who like card games with your dad, sultry songs, and passive-aggressive goodbyes. I think that people should go see this show. I think it has such amazing actors and great songs. I liked it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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