The Color Purple on Broadway- “Look Who’s Wearing the Pants Now”
Reviewed by Cassandra Lenoir
“The Color Purple” is back and it’s better than ever! John Doyle revives this fan favorite and delivers an empowering message of the strength of a woman scorned. 28-year-old British actress, Cynthia Erivo, makes her Broadway debut in this gospel-flavored musical in the lead role of Celie.
Through the set design and costume styling, from the very moment the curtain opened we were taken back to the beginning of the 20th century during a time where life was hard for blacks and their only inspiration could be found in church. Hence, the humorous gossip of three lively Church Ladies (played by Carrie Compere, Bre Jackson and Rema Webb).
Uneducated, unappreciated, raped, battered, misused, children taken away and lied to, Celie takes us on a journey from being an “unseen” wife to an independent businesswoman who knows her worth. Throughout the play, time and time again, Celie displays strength through her sacrifice. Due to the deeply rooted love for her sister Nettie, played by Joaquina Kalukango, Celie finds herself raped by her father in an effort to keep him from raping her sister, she then married to a man whom she simply calls “Mister” (Isaiah Johnson), so that Nettie can continue school and become a teacher. Just when it seems like her life couldn’t get any more confusing, oddly enough Celie finds herself falling in love with Mister’s mistress, Shug Avery. Shug, played by Oscar and Grammy-award winner Jennifer Hudson, brings a comical yet sensational performance, as she also made her Broadway debut.
With musical selections like “Somebody Gonna Love You,” sang by Celie as her father forces her to give away her infant, to “Hell No!” powerfully delivered by Danielle Brooks (Orange Is The New Black) who played the role of Sofia after being hit by her husband Harpo (Kyle Scatliffe),to the comforting “Too Beautiful for Words,” sang by Shug to encourage Celie, this play is sure to leave you inspired and motivated to keep pressing on, despite what life may throw at you.
A true tale of triumph, Celie ends the play on top! After being reunited with her sister and children, Celie found it in her heart to forgive her ex-husband, Mister and started a booming business “Miss Celie’s Pants.” With a newfound level of self-respect, Celie’s trials and tribulations are the perfect reminder that there’s nothing too hard for God. Never give up!