'The Color Purple' offers a soulful musical experience

Pitchforks for storyline: 3 out of 5 Pitchforks for music: 5 out of 5 Starring: Dayna Jarae Dantzler, Traci Allen, Edward C. Smith, Lee Edward Colston II, Pam Trotter and Taprena Augustine Runs until: Oct. 17

This week, fans of soul music can enjoy “The Color Purple” at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix from Thursday until Sunday.

The musical is an adaptation of the novel by Alice Walker and the film by Steven Spielberg, both with the same title. Overall, the show is worth seeing.

The story follows the main character, Celie (Dayna Jarae Dantzler), as she struggles with the betrayal of her Pa (Mark Hall), the absence of her sister, Nettie (Traci Allen), the abusive relationship with her husband, Mister (Edward C. Smith), and her complicated love for Shug Avery (Taprena Augustine) to rise above all of her troubles to find her voice.

Every single actor and actress in the play was incredible. The actors couldn’t have been cast better for their roles. All of the musical numbers required strong voices, and the audience was not disappointed by each powerful voice on stage.

Not only were their voices extraordinarily commanding, but they were also moving. Each number was full of soul that was inspiring.

In general, the story made sense for the time setting, 1909 to 1949. However, elements of the musical almost seemed out of place. The abuse of Celie and her meek demeanor, unfortunately, made perfect sense for the early 20th century.

The thing that was most perplexing was the addition of sexuality and sex appeal to some of the scenes in the musical. For instance, Shug Avery’s performance of “Push Da Button” at Harpo’s (Lee Edward Colston II ) Juke Joint was wrought with sexual suggestions. For other musicals, like “RENT,” “Spring Awakening,” or “Young Frankenstein,” anything sex-related doesn’t seem weird, but that just wasn’t the case with “The Color Purple.”

Additionally, Celie’s relationship with Shug Avery also seemed out of place. Perhaps it was the time period that made it baffling or perhaps it was the fact that there were bigger problems to focus on. Either way, it made the musical seem a bit unfocused.

The only other negative is that the musical isn’t necessarily feel-good until the end; it’s also not for families. Audiences should know that the play contains mature situations.

The set and costumes for the play were done well. There was a particular scene where everything came together brilliantly.

When Celie sang, “I’m Here,” a tree rolled onto the set covered in purple flowers at the base. That moment was the culmination of everything that had happened to Celie, and the vibrant purple color of the flowers mixed with the powerhouse number and the message was almost beyond words. It was incredible.

Although the story was heartbreaking, the end result was breathtaking and made the musical a worthwhile viewing experience.

Tickets for “The Color Purple” can be purchased on ticketmaster.com.

Reach the reporter at mmattox@asu.edu


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