“The Color Purple” has made an incredible journey from a well-loved book to an Oscar-winning film, to finally, a Broadway musical. This transition has proved to be seamless and worthwhile. The story is a bittersweet tale of a young black girl named Celie set in the early 1900s. Celie and her sister, Nettie, are being raised by their abusive father, but their closeness and love for each other get them through the hardest of times. Celie’s father sends her off to marry a man she does not care for, and she is separated from her beloved sister Nettie. He is abusive and Celie wonders if she will ever have a happy future that includes her sister and true joy.
The play is a delicious treat for the eyes and ears. The songs are filled with emotion and hope that you can feel with every note sang. The angelic singing voices of the cast make you want to come out of your chair, and tears slid down my eyes just listening to these beautiful songs. Celie’s pain, hope, and love are expressed phenomenally well, and the play is saved from total sadness by the comic relief of Sofia, the hilarious and outspoken wife of Celia’s stepson, Harpo.
The meaning of the play is simple. If we believe and hold on to faith, eventually joy will come to us, despite numerous hardships. Celie, Nettie, and Sofia endure more than most women in this day. Rape, abuse and being expected to be subservient to cruel husbands were just a few things that were part of these women’s daily lives. The mere fact that they could overcome them is a miracle.
The sets evoke a somber mood, but the songs lift up your heart and soul. There is a lot of inspiration in a story that shows a woman crawling up from the lowest place to a life that she so richly deserves and enjoys. The most comical moment comes when Sofia sings a song about how a man should never abuse a woman, entitled “Hell No.” The audience was doubled over in laughter as this woman proclaimed that if a man ever even tried to hit her, she’d say “hell no” and hit him back. Her strength contrasted nicely with Celie’s passiveness and provided texture to the rich, compelling characters.
“The Color Purple” is a must see for anyone that feels the need to really be inspired, moved to tears, or just to laugh out loud. Jeannette Bayardelle, the actress who portrays Celie, is a vocal powerhouse that deserves to be heard by everyone, and merits a standing ovation after every song. Jaws dropped as she held high notes for seconds on end. I urge you to see this powerful story of what happens when you hold on to hope, let go of fear, and believe in love.