Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review of The Color Purple (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Color Purple. The book was by Marsha Norman based on the novel by Alice Walker. The lyrics and music were by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The direction and musical staging was by John Doyle. The music director was Darryl Archibald. It was about a young woman named Celie (Adrianna Hicks) who lived in Georgia with her father (J.D. Webster) and sister Nettie (N'Jameh Camara). She had had two of Pa's children who had been taken away from her. And then she is married off to Mister (Gavin Gregory), who doesn't really want to marry her and is very cruel to her. She raises his son Harpo (J. Daughtry) and his other children. Eventually Harpo marries Sofia (Carrie Compere) who is one of the people who befriends Celie and helps her understand that a woman doesn't always have to comply and can be a powerful person. Celie also has an unexpected friend in Shug Avery (Carla R. Stewart) who is a singer who comes into town and Mister is in love with. This show is about sisterhood, the horrors of abuse, and what it means to be black and a woman.

There were two moments in this show that I think were really inspiring and powerful, the song "Hell No!" and the scene where Celie curses Mister. "Hell No!" was a song sung by Sofia about Harpo raising his hand to her. It is about how she has had to fight for herself her whole life, but didn't know she'd have to fight in her own home. It is about the experiences she had with the male members of her family, and her response is "Hell No!" She has over time realized what Celie hasn't yet, that she doesn't deserve to just take it. I really liked this song because Sofia was stomping across the stage and was so powerful. The singing was really amazing; she had this really great belt and a crazy range. It is really strange to me how Celie can remain so calm when people are furious and yelling at her; I think that shows that she feels that she is getting what she deserves even if she doesn't know or understand why, which is really sad. Celie does eventually figure out that she doesn't deserve to be treated the way she is and that she deserves better. And on the day that she is leaving she decides to tell Mister what has been on her mind for the years of their "marriage," which was a legal but not emotional relationship. She ends up cursing him and saying that everything he touches will crumble until he does right by her. It is justice in the package of a curse. Sofia had the best reaction to when Celie first stood up to Mister; it sounded like she was crying at first and then it eventually started sounding like laughing, and then it was full-on howling. It was great to see how Celie breaking out of her shell inspired every woman at that table to say she didn't need to take any crap.

This show is mostly powerful and heartbreaking, but it also had a lot of great comedic moments. There is a song called "Any Little Thing" sung by Sofia and Harpo about how when all their various children were out of the house and they had done all of their chores, which they would sing about to each other in a very suggestive way, they get a little private time. One of the reasons it is so funny is that it is such a quick turnaround from talking about chores to making it seem like you aren't talking about chores anymore. Also their extreme enthusiasm about no one being in the house is absolutely hilarious to watch. This song is also extremely adorable and shows you how healthy the sexual element is in their relationship. It is healthy because they are both trying to do something for the other person instead of trying to get something themselves.

There is a song near the end of the show called "Miss Celie's Pants," which takes place after she has left Mister and opened a business selling pants. It might have one of my favorite lines in the show, "Look who's wearing the pants now," which perfectly captures what everyone was thinking when they saw they movie. But they put it in a song with an amazing high note, which is even better. The dancing was delightful, especially when Sofia started twerking, which was really iconic. "Miss Celie's Pants" is not just a clever song; it also shows you how far Celie has come. Even though the show isn't over, and something bad could still happen, this song lifts you up and gives you a boost. This is the first time we have seen any of the characters except Shug in bright colors. So that shows you that Celie's pants seem to make all the women in the show who weren't that happy before feel different and powerful in the pants. It is just a super fun number to watch.

People who would like this show are people who like inspiring stories, power pants, and suggestive chores. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is a powerful, surprisingly funny, heartbreaking, and heartwarming show. I loved it!

Photos: Matthew Murphy

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