After being told in Alice Walker’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize novel of what Celie Harris, a young African American girl, endured in the first half of the twentieth century and how she survived aided by two other females, her story was turned into a movie in 1985 and a musical that won several Tony nominations in 2006.
What is in now appearing at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre through July 29, 2018, is the National Tour of the musical’s revival begun in London in 2013. It went on to Broadway to win Tony Awards in 2016 including Best Revival of a Musical.
Directed by Tony Award-winner John Doyle, the current tour features Adrianna Hicks as Celie, Carla R. Stewart as friend Shug Avery and Carrie Compere as friend Sofia.
The lead was good but I didn’t think her singing was as strong as some of the supporting cast though she made up for it with the grit and commitment she gave to the role.
I’d really forgotten how dark the story is but thankfully the joyful sounds of the gospel songs lifted it when some moments felt unbearable to continue watching.
The second act was the best. The actors who played Shug and Ms. Sophie were very strong and added the comedic relief and strength of the woman that I wanted to show up in the first act.
Celie’s big number at the end was powerful even though I found her singing a bit shrill. I wanted to stand to my feet and cheer her on and felt the rest of the audience did too.
The musical was adapted by Marsha Norman with music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.
DETAILS: “The Color Purple” is at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy, Chicago, through July, 29, 2018. Running time: 2 hrs, 25 min. with an intermission. For tickets and other information call the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and visit BroadwayinChicago.
(Ed note: Guest reviewer Sonia Evans is vice president of content at RogerEbert.com.)
For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago