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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘The Color Purple’ delivers sass, soul”

    “”The Color Purple”” is a decadent and stunning way to commence the 2010-11 season of Off Broadway productions at the Tucson Music Hall.

    Before there was “”Precious,”” there was Celie. “”The Color Purple”” follows Celie and her sorrowful journey through abuse and abandonment only to awaken her alacrity for life. It is a poignant story that is inspirational, and the cast truly delivers.

    The entire first half of the play centers on Celie’s downward spiral into the depths of repression. She has had two children by her father, both of whom have been wrenched from her hands; she is traded for a cow to an abusive husband who loves another; and her sister, beautiful and presented with opportunities, disappears from her life to Africa. Her closest friends, Sofia and Shug Avery, teach her the values of healthy relationships and to resist misogyny.

    This first half is almost entirely sung against a backdrop of a field of purple flowers and a setting sun. The light is almost too perfect, giving the sensation of being immersed in the humidity and sun-drenched pastures of Southern land. The musical numbers are aggressive and the use of simple props and gospel inspired vocals convey a broad depth of passion.

    Amidst field hands with backhoes and sisters playing patty-cake, alongside heavier scenes, comes the best number of the show in the second act. A chorus dance conveys the solidarity of an almost decimated tribe, ruined by the introduction of slavery. The juxtaposition of a suffering tribe and a suffering community of African Americans in the South in the 1930s is haunting.

    Dayna Jarae Dantzler, the actress who portrays Celie, by no means has the most powerful voice of the cast; she is at times drowned out by the orchestra. By far the best voice belongs to Kadejah One, a church soloist who acts as muse and messenger with a posse of church ladies who gossip, sass and scold. They are the pinnacles of virtue and their presence gives the production a consistent positive presence.

    “”The Color Purple,”” though slightly predictable in plot, delivers a powerful story about perseverance in the of the early twentieth century South. It is a unique reminder about the greatest themes in life that all authors attempt to convey and all audiences attempt to grasp: the journey from despair and abuse onto the sunlit road of redemption, forgiveness and love.

     

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