Monday, August 27, 2018

"The Color Purple" at the Kennedy Center

Adapting an award winning book that has already been made into a beloved star-studded movie is not an easy task. "The Color Purple" meets the challenge with songs that ask much of the cast. Because the original properties are so well-known, there is not much rest time as the show works to tell the story of Celie, abused by her stepdad, given over to Mister/Albert in marriage for much the same treatment, cut off from her sister Nellie who has to leave their childhood home when their stepdad goes after her too. Her interactions with Albert's son Harpo, watching him love a Sofia who does not allow her husband to mistreat her, and then of course her developing relationship with Shug, who she meets through her husband's relationship with her. As such, there are almost no songs where at least three things aren't happening, even the love songs. They use male farm workers and more often female churchgoers as sort of a combo Greek chorus and narration catch up. The cast album from the revival with Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, and Danielle Brooks provides a lot to live up to, but this cast did a great job. The DC run has wrapped up, but if you are elsewhere, keep an eye out for it.