‘Color Purple’ at Proctors highlights talented cast
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. » “The Color Purple” has started it’s national tour at Proctors in Schenectady this week. The revival was a large success on Broadway and is likely to be a hit on the road.
It’s not your typical Broadway musical. “The Color Purple” is a moody piece of theater that is more dark drama than it is a rousing musical. Even though the music is wellsung and beautiful, it is so sensitive that you feel that applauding would be disrespectful of the sentiments in the show.
This is especially true in the first act where Celie’s trials and tribulation are harsh and many. And because the work is set in the Deep South in the early 20th century and Celie is a young black woman, her tribulations are mighty.
The second act is much brighter and the songs more optimistic.
Because of Celie’s will and faith in God, she overcomes a life filled with the kind of hardships that Charles Dickens couldn’t have imagined. And, even if the play never becomes lighthearted, Celie’s growth as a successful, independent woman is uplifting and joyous.
Individually the cast is mostly excellent as they find the strength and courage of people who believe that the future will be better. Celie’s journey represents the power of believing in yourself and the importance of having powerful role models in your life.
Because of the independence shown to her by strong women like Sophia (Carrie Compere) and Shug Avery (Carla R. Stewart), Celie has proof that a woman does not have to be subservient.
Adrianna Hicks is ideal as Celie. In the first act she is a passive person, but not a broken woman. Hicks makes it clear Celie is a survivor and if she behaves as docile, it is a signal that being powerless means being patient.
Once Celie realizes that her husband’s emotional cruelty has crossed a line, she wakes from her numb existence and makes her voice heard. Her outburst as she expresses her independence is the most buoyant moment in the show. As her life improves she becomes a role model as she lives life with grace and is able to forgive. Throughout, Hicks gives an endearing performance.
Because it is still early in its year-long run, not all the characters are, as of yet, fully developed. Some staging seems tentative, there are several awkward pauses and the collective spirit of the cast sometimes seems forced. Technically the show looks good, proving simple is indeed better. But the sound was often too low and important lines and sensitive lyrics were hard to hear.
However, this is a talented cast and I expect things will be near-perfect very soon, perhaps by Saturday, which is their final day at Proctors.
“The Color Purple” is at Proctors until Sunday.
For tickets and schedule information, call (518) 346-6204 or log on to proctors.org.
“The Color Purple” opened Wednesday at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady.