THE COLOR PURPLE at Roxy Regional Theatre is ‘Emphatic, Beautiful, Emotional Singing’

Olivia White and ensemble members of the Roxy Regional Theatre
– Photo by Donald Groves

Alice Walker’s beloved and iconic 1982 novel reveals all the emotional power and dramatic possibilities for the first time – can you believe it’s been 40 years? – and capitalizing on the success of the beloved 1985 film treatment that gave Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey their first screen roles, PurpleThe transformation of the stage musical breathes new life and energy into the story, while providing an entry point for a new legion of fans eager to embrace Walker’s colorful characters and their vivid stories.

Reading the book within a few days of its first publication, I was completely captivated by the characters Walker created and longed for the day when they would come to life on the screens of my local movie theater. I remember that day so vividly—as I recall important and newsworthy events in my life, like the Kennedy assassination, the moon landing, the Challenger tragedy—as if it were just yesterday, even in December 1985. 18.18.That day, Stephen Spielberg’s Purple At the first performance at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, I was so taken by the story, overwhelmed by the emotion of it all, that I sobbed loudly and shamelessly as it played out in front of me. In fact, I was so overwhelmed by the emotions of this experience that I worried that I would disturb the people around me in a dark theater, but they all responded like I did, to be honest.

Review: Roxy Regional Theatre's 'Purple' is 'emphasized, beautiful, uplifting singing'
Olivia White as Miss Celie

After the movie, when I walked to the parking lot, I was still crying so hard, two kind and lovely women who were in the movie theater with me asked my state of mind if I was sure I would drive. Since then, if the movie was on TV, or if I happened to watch it on a smaller handheld screen, my reaction was still the same: Whenever Celie and Nettie reunite at the end, I absolutely lose it. Also, I’ve never had a glass of lemonade in the past 40 years, and I didn’t say “I put some Shug Avery pee in it”.

Why am I telling you all these potentially embarrassing details about myself?Well I’m sharing with you what I think is mine Sincerely as a loyal fan Purple Having spent the past 40 years — and coincidentally, he’s also been censoring live theatre productions at Clarksville’s Roxy Regional Theatre for at least 32 years — so perhaps you would consider the following statement to have greater credibility and criticality:

production Purple, Now on stage at Roxy, it’s without a doubt the most powerful, beautiful, and exciting musical I’ve seen in the last thirty years at the historic theater on the corner of First and Franklin in downtown Clarksville. Confidently directed by Broadway veteran/Belmont University alum/Austin Peay State University professor Deonte Warren, Ebone Amos graces the stage with dynamic choreography and one of the best and most talented actors of all time, Purple Clearly one of the best shows in the company’s 39-season history (Season 40 is coming next month).

Adding more energy and passion to the stage, Amos’ eye-catching choreography perfectly captures the spirit of the show and brings out her acting talent to the fullest.

Review: Roxy Regional Theatre's 'Purple' is 'emphasized, beautiful, uplifting singing'
Church Ladies: La’Nanda Chance, Sabrina Reed
and Alexandra West

Led by an amazing performance by Olivia White (she’s simply stunning) in the central role of Celie – with great support from Sierra Davis as Nettie, Ja’Naye Flanagan as Squeak, Laiya Parker as Sofia and Candace Haynes as Shug Avery -Warren’s venerable cast delivers the goods at the ideal rhythm, ensuring a great performance from start to finish.

When we talk about acting, it should be noted that La’Nanda Chance as Darlene, Sabrina Reed as Doris, and Alexandra West as Jarene (also known as “The Lady of the Church”), who offer a Greek perspective on various choruses, There is the voice of an angel. Given the vocal power of this incredibly talented cast, which includes an impressive contingent of males, it’s a miracle that the Roxy Theatre is still standing after each performance.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martha Norman (“Good night, mother) wrote the musical’s book, and she invested in her own dramatic sensibilities, while staying true to Walker’s book and adhering to the storytelling possibilities inherent in those pages. She retains all the drama of the story while omitting some of the book’s more horrific scenes — for example, Celie’s childhood rape — which takes place offstage and is dealt with on the show rather than center stage, so that A more fluid and seamless form of storytelling for musicals has been achieved. You don’t miss the dark moments in the book or the movie, but for the most part, you’re still acutely aware of the cruelty of Celie’s life and the lives of everyone around her.

Review: Roxy Regional Theatre's 'Purple' is 'emphasized, beautiful, uplifting singing'
The women of the choir perform “Miss Sealy’s Pants”

With music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, the melodic score covers everything from the blues, jazz and gospel to the most anticipated and respected performance tunes in the top musical compositions. The soundtrack echoes the time the show is set in – from the early 1900s to the late 1940s, with Celie ranging in age from 14 to 50 – capturing the tone and feel that gives the work a historical perspective, while giving a uniquely American An idiom that pays tribute to musicals. From the rousing opening sequence filled with sermon enthusiasm to the evocative music of the opening “African” scene in Act Two, from the blues-sounding “Push Da Button” to “Brown Betty,” the score is for Africans A tribute to American music, while “Shug Avery is Coming to Town” and “Miss Celie’s Pants” conjure up the best musicals.

“Here I Am” by Olivia White as she shows us the heartbreaking truth about Celie’s life experiences, while “What About Love?” and “The Color Purple” are tender, haunting The love song in your heart, with eternal charm, will fill your heart in the future.

Review: Roxy Regional Theatre's 'Purple' is 'emphasized, beautiful, uplifting singing'
Jermaine L. Wilson as “Mr.”

The Warren cast’s powerful performances are noteworthy and consistent across the board, and White’s portrayal of Sealy takes her audience on a 40-year journey through which the people in Walker’s stories learn the true lessons of life and love. woman inside Purple Both in terms of compassionate portrayals of the show’s creators and the talented actresses on the cast, they won best roles.

White’s performance is ideally tuned from start to finish, showing us a docile and gentle young girl, Celie, who ends up being a seasoned, world-weary woman who finally feels the effects of romantic love. Her scenes with Candace Haynes’ Shug Avery are warm and real, and the two women’s chemistry fills the theater in every moment of their interaction.

Men in this cast (and, we must admit, Walker’s original has often been criticized for painting a horrific picture of African-Americans – this version attempts to mitigate that by more fairly portraying the gradual transition of male characters this case), Jermaine L. Pearson commands him as the predatory and mean “Mr.” which makes his ultimate transformation even more powerful. Kenneth L. Waters Jr. is charming and funny as Harpo, and his relationship with Laiya Parker’s Sofia on stage is really endearing. David Ridley’s role as the old gentleman is excellent, providing a searing portrait as a sadistic dad.

Review: Roxy Regional Theatre's 'Purple' is 'emphasized, beautiful, uplifting singing'
Candice Haynes and Olivia White

The show’s design aesthetics, particularly Ryan Bowie’s set concept and Emily Rourke’s set design, provided the perfect and varied backdrop for the show’s action, while Noel Rennerfeldt’s lighting design provided atmospheric lighting for the show. Unfortunately, the sound design of the production is quite confusing (especially in the recap of the first act) and it’s hard to hear the lyrics and dialogue clearly (but I watch the show a lot and I’m able to fill in the gaps myself, but I’m worried about other customer), and the costume designs seem ill-conceived and have no sense of time—except for the “African” sequence, in which the costumes are beautiful—instead, what appears to be an ill-fated attempt at cosplay has proven inconsistent in modern fashion .

Purple. Based on the novel by Alice Walker. Martha Norman’s book. Music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. Directed by Deonte Warren. Choreographed by Ebone Amos. Music direction by Tyler Saudners. Stage managed by David Graham. Presented by the Roxy Regional Theatre in Clarksville. Until Saturday, August 20. For more information, visit To purchase tickets, please call (931) 645-7699.

Donald Groves photo

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