Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arsht Center: The Color Purple (2 reviews)

The Broadway Across America Tour of The Color Purple opened its very limited run at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on October 27, 2009.
...a soul-stirring musical based on the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the Oscar-nominated film by Steven Spielberg. It is the unforgettable and inspiring story of a woman named Celie, who triumphs over tremendous odds to find joy in life, and her true inner beauty.
Gary Griffin directed a cast that includes Kenita R. Miller, LaToya London, Angela Robinson, Rufus Bonds JR., Stu James, Felicia P. Fields, Kimberly Ann Harris, Tiffany Daniels, Virginia Ann Woodruff, Lynette Dupree, Virginia Ann Woodruff, Adam Wade, Yoland Wyns, Kevin Boseman, Shelby Braxton-Brooks, Darius Crenshaw, David Aron Damane, Lesly Terrel Donald, Doug Eskew, Andre Garner, Latrisa A. Harper, Phyre Hawkins, Tim Hunter, Dana Marie Ingraham, Brandi Chavonne Massey, Jeremy McQueen, Reva Rice, Drew j. Shuler, J.D. Aubrey Smith, Kristopher Thompson-Bolden, Dawn Marie Watson, Hollie E. Wright, and Horace V. Rogers.

Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Its fleeting run will end on Sunday, but as the cheering crowd affirmed at Tuesday's opening, the musical treatment of one woman's harrowing story is abundantly worth the wait.
In transforming Walker's novel into theater, script writer Marsha Norman and composer-lyricists Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray haven't toned down or sanitized Celie's trials.
Under Gary Griffin's direction, the story absolutely works as theater...
...Nettie (the radiant ex-American Idol finalist, La Toya London, who really can act).
Russell, Willis and Bray have crafted a score that ranges from the rousing double-entendre number Push Da Button (delivered with knockout assurance by the irresistible Angela Robinson as sultry singer Shug Avery) to the praise-filled church song Mysterious Ways to Celie's life-affirming final solo, I'm Here. Their collection of musical theater songs serves the story while artfully incorporating the myriad musical styles that inspired them. Choreographer Donald Byrd keeps the cast jumping from moved-by-the-spirit church dancing to down-and-dirty juke joint revelry.
Miller anchors the cast as Celie... Felicia P. Fields... has burnished the role to a brilliant amalgam of comedy, big-gal sexiness and heartbreak. Though the show's men -- Bonds' Mister, Rogers' Pa, Adam Wade's Ol' Mister, even Stu James' generally sweet Harpo -- too often spell trouble in the woman-centric world of The Color Purple, all are persuasively played.
The Color Purple is doing a booming business at the Arsht, so much so that the run is nearly sold out. But the good news is that the show is coming back to South Florida in April for a two-week run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. See it now or see it then, but know that this fine production is worth seeing.
Beau Higgins reviewed for
That was not a late in the season hurricane that hit the Arsht Center last night. It was the opening of the musical version of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. I need not tell you that the show is a roof raiser. About two minutes into the show the audience started raising the roof and they never let go, drive by and you will likely notice the structural difference.
This show is filled with a delightful chorus of townspeople, who are grand with their voices and the exciting choreography provided by Donald Byrd. We must take a moment to mention the splendid church ladies who weave in and out of musical numbers and are welcome any time they appear on stage. Reminiscent of the Mayor's Wife and her friends in The Music Man, hats off to Kimberly Ann Harris, Virginia Ann Woodruff, and Lynette DuPree for their lovely performances.
Kenita R. Miller is a grand Celie. She hasn't a false moment in her performance and her singing is divine.
The show is stolen by Felicia P. Fields, who's Sofia, once seen, will never be forgotten.
The Color Purple runs through Sunday at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. But if you miss it, the good news is that it returns to South Florida to play at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts April 6 through April 18, 2010.

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