‘Purple’ review: Purple prevails

Nova Y. Payton – Photo: Christopher Mueller

The cast of Royal Enjoyment at the Signature Theatre Purple (★★★★★) in the knockout run of Timothy Douglas’s musical based on Alice Walker’s novel and acclaimed 1985 film, forging a chain of love without a weak link.

The show marks a milestone for Signature, which, according to artistic director Matthew Gardiner, had plans for a musical a decade ago, which just wrapped up a two-year run on Broadway. Tony Award winning work.

But those plans were disrupted by John Doyle’s 2015 Broadway revival starring strongmen Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks.

The production eventually made its way to Washington, D.C., in a modified form of the Broadway Touring Company, and frankly, much of the decades-long tumultuous series still lives on. Well, the Signature cast ate it all up with nothing left.

Most people are familiar with the story of poor, black, uneducated Sealy escaping the chains of abuse, sexism, racism, and illiteracy in Jim Crow, Georgia, to discover the power of loving herself.

Those familiar with Steven Spielberg’s films will want to feel every tragic or wonderful beat of Sealy’s story — the horror of sexual violence at “Mr.” Inspired by the person – the determined Sophia, in the arms of Sugar Avery, began the desire of the flesh, and finally, the overflowing catharsis of the reunion.

Douglas and his companions deliver it all with a fresh feel, capturing those unforgettable Spielberg moments, but through the unique performances of these players, led by Nova Y. Payton’s spiritually moved Sealy .

The Color Purple cast on Signature – Photo: Christopher Mueller

Reaching the pinnacle of Miss Celie’s strength and stability in “I’m Here,” Payton’s vocals literally gave me chills. The music and lyrics by Allee Willis, Brenda Russell and Stephen Bray sound richer and carry the voices of many soulful interpreters.

Tributes to music director Mark G. Meadows, who is usually best at coaxing scores and performers, and conductor Angie Benson, who leads an eight-piece band that brings funky numbers like “Push the Button” all the way to the joke-union Heaven.

Musicians hide behind Tony Cisek’s handsome set of unfinished barn side slats that open and close to give glimpses of gossip choirs or sun-drenched vistas of Africa.



The show’s fun trio of nosy church ladies at the press conference included swing dancer Gabriel Rice, who joined regular fans Nia Savoy-Dock and Jalisa Williams for their incisive narration And the sweet harmony rocked the whole house.

Such fun abounds in performances too American idol Starring Frankie Davis as Sophia and Solomon Parker III as the comically coquettish Harper.

Performing solo, or popping the bubble “Any Little Thing” duet, the duo brings meaning to the capricious love story. Danielle J. Summons as glamorous diva Shug Avery touches on the romance between her alcoholic Shug and Payton’s shy but curious Sealy mind and hurt.


From their buckled shoes to the microphones in their wigs, the entire cast is fully integrated into every part, through the obvious connection to each other and the material, as well as some powerful vocals. Strong enough to win sympathy for an irrefutable cruel, ruthless man in the context of Torrey Linder’s moving turn as Mr.

But even a gentleman deserves to be loved. That’s why we’re there, letting the love from Celie’s story, Sofia’s, Shug’s, and even Mister’s story, flow through them and seep into our own humble experiences.

Purple Will perform at the Signature Theatre at 4200 Campbell Avenue in Arlington, VA on October 9th. The Pride Night show will take place on September 16th. Tickets range from $40 to $108. Call 703-820-9771, or visit www.sigtheatre.org.

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