Based on the seminal prize winning novel by Alice Walker and later filmed by Steven Spielberg, Curve@Home in association with Birmingham Hippodrome presents this theatre in the round version of the award winning production.
The Color Purple is a sprawling story about friendship and personal triumph through adversity as the main character Celie (played by the amazing T’Shan Williams) makes the journey from the dark heart of abuse and misery to the glories of personal fulfilment, kindness and love. In short, the story is about change and the power that it gives to the individual. It’s also a story about connection and the importance of community and family.
This musical version (book by Marsha Norman with music by the fabulous Brenda Russell, Allee Willis & Stephen Bray) cleverly mixes together gospel, jazz, deep soul, blues and ragtime and the strong vocals from the entire cast absolutely shine through the show. There is no need for complicated sets or “in the way” props, the actors and their voices are more than enough to propel this performance forward.
Director Tinuke Craig keeps the story and the characters tight and allows Celie’s story to develop and breathe at a good pace. Craig also draws out superb performances from the leads. Williams as Celie gives a sensitive portrayal as the put upon Celie whilst Danielle Fiamanya as her beloved sister Nettie sparkles in the role. The show also includes stellar performances from Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Harpo and Ako Mitchell as Mister but for me the standout performance of the show comes from Carly Mercedes Dyer as Shug Avery, she storms the stage with some of the best vocals I’ve heard in a musical for quite some time. Dyer leads the entire company with one of the many showstoppers Push Da Button, the energy from the entire cast with this number just sets the tone for the rest of the production and I really defy anyone not succumbing to the sheer joy and exuberance that positively oozes from the Curve stage.
This is a musical that works on so many levels from the beautiful and varied musical styles to the powerful messages that resonates throughout Walker’s story with nods to the Civil Rights Movement and LGBTQ family.
Other stand out moments include the finale anthem I’m Here powerfully performed by Williams and the beautiful love duet What About Love with two outstanding performances from Williams and Dyer.
Mark Smith’s choreography fully compliments the space and Alex Parker‘s musical direction along with his talented band is simply delightful.
What more could I say? Besides go and watch this if you are fan of musical theatre, I am almost certain you’ll enjoy this. Playing until 7th March 2021 at https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-color-purple-at-home/
Reviewer: Kiefer Williams
Reviewed: 17th February 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★