“The Color Purple” at Signature Theatre – Excellent
Purple from the award-winning book, film and Broadway musical is now in theaters at Signature Theatre. The talented Nova Y. Payton is the “Celi” of this production.
We all know “The Color Purple” and it’s a winner in every category. Whether it’s an Alice Walker book, a Steven Spielberg film or a Broadway musical, versions of these literary masterpieces take us through an emotional whirlwind. Currently at the Signature Theatre in Sherrington, Virginia, the musical takes us on a 40-year journey with teenage Celie. She was separated from her beloved sister and forced into an abusive marriage. Celie experiences depression, despair and heartbreak. We feel raw, but also hopeful. There is sadness, and then there is joy. Nova Y. Payton, as Celie and every member of the company, is extraordinary! Viewers can expect their emotions to be exercised. Until October 9, the production is a signature theater.
Director Timothy Douglas has meticulously collaborated with skilled actors in the intimate setting of Signature to create a hybrid family that we learn to love. Each actor carefully manages his character, allowing the audience to see the abused character transformed into the whole.
Payton continues to prove that she is one of our top musical actresses in the Washington metro area. When Celie found her strength, she underwent a transformation. Payton’s facial expressions and how she holds her body are deeply felt.
Washington native Mark Meadows is the music director. He jumped into this energetic musical from this summer’s signature theater Stevie Wonder cabaret show “Hotter Than July.” “The Color Purple” has a strong spiritual score that extends the production’s dialogue. Creating an uplifting score with an exceptional voice means no holding back.
“The harmonies, the arrangements are all there. The difficulty with soundtracks is that in gospel music, there are so many sensations and pauses that once I get into the rehearsal room, I have to find the rhythm of the performance,” Meadows said. “I use sheet music as our bible, but then I let it breathe. My style of musical direction always makes the actors feel comfortable.”
Danielle Summons as Shug Avery. She joined the cast immediately after completing “Operation Sisters” in Rochester, New York. The Sugar Avery character is closely linked to the other characters in “Purple”, which is not present in the film. Into the role, Summons understands that everyone knows these characters.
“Sliding into Shug Avery and the complexities of her relationship with Sealy and Mister was like a therapeutic and emotional challenge,” Sammons said during rehearsals for the musical.
Summons grew up in Bowie, Maryland, and when she was in elementary school, she continued, “I think the show was very healing for a lot of people, including us on stage. The cast is amazing. Incredible and arguably one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. They’re so generous and selfless on stage.”
Stage and film actress. Summons recently completed work on the film “Rustin” directed by George C. Wolfe about civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.
As a director, Douglas tapped into a wealth of talent to offer us a gift wrapped in love.
“The world isn’t easy. It’s so personal, especially over the past two and a half years,” Douglas said. “The care this amazing band has for each other motivates me to keep going every day. We ended up having to stop at some point and put it in front of the audience and hopefully we have something to say.”
The making of “Purple” says a lot. The audience will not be disappointed. Enjoy the musical on YouTube: https://youtu.be/q4iqucHbIFY For ticket information, visit the Signature Theatre website www.SigTheatre.org.
Twitter and Instagram: @SigTheatre
Brenda C. Siler
Twitter and Instagram: @bcscomm