4th March 2021
One of the theatres that have taken the step to move their productions online is Leicester Curve. In 2019, Curve produced The Color Purple in partnership with Birmingham Hippodrome. The cast and crew were brought back together last month to create a new digital version of the production and it works brilliantly well. The musical is an adaption of Alice Walker’s novel of the same name. It tells the story of Celie as she grows into her own woman through various relationships, discovering who she truly is.
Tinuke Craig directs this production and it really is beautiful. There is no set which puts the focus fully on the characters and the story. It works tremendously well. It may even work better on screen as it makes the story feel even more personal and intimate. Mark Smith’s choreography is fantastic and adds some brilliant fun to what could otherwise be quite a heavy piece of theatre. Ben Cracknell’s lighting design, alongside Joshua Pharo’s projections are great and really help to show time passing and to differentiate locations whilst there is minimal set. Alex Parker musically directs the production and the band sounds fantastic with its blending of vocal harmonies being spot-on throughout.
The Color Purple has a fantastic ensemble cast, led by the sensational T’Shan Williams as Celie. Williams, most notably known for being part of the original West End cast of Heathers the Musical, is perfect in this role. The close ups show her brilliant expressions and just how much heart has been put into her performance. Her vocals are outstanding and her rendition of the 11 o’clock number ‘I’m Here’ is everything it needed to be. Danielle Fiamanya plays Nettie, Celie’s sister. The chemistry between Fiamanya and Williams is so warming and believable. Their vocals blend gorgeously together and their arc is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Carly Mercedes Dyer joins the cast as Shug Avery for this production. Although she does come across as slightly young for the role at times, she is a delight to watch. Her vocals are just excellent and the relationship between Dyer and Williams comes across as just as beautiful but layered as it should be.
Ako Mitchell plays Mister, the man who takes Celie in as his own, and he does a terrific job. He portrays the depth and complexity of this character so well that the audience doesn’t like him, as they shouldn’t, but they still empathise with him as his world starts to fall apart and he’s left alone. KM Drew Boateng has a wonderful intensity in his small role as Celie’s Pa at the start of the show. Karen Mavundukure plays Sofia excellently, and her vocals are fantastic. She has great chemistry with Simon-Anthony Rhoden who plays Harpo. The duo are a delight to watch both together and individually.
Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah, Danielle Kassaraté and Landi Oshinowo play Darlene, Doris and Jarene, who almost act as a Greek chorus narrating the story. They all bring a wonderful energy to the production and have a great rapport between themselves. Their harmonies are also amazing throughout. Perola Congo plays Squeak, and despite this being a supporting role, she commands the stage and all eyes are fixed on her in her scenes.
The Color Purple is the perfect evening’s entertainment and brings the theatre to the screen very well. The musical itself works brilliantly in this new format and a great intimacy is created, between the bigger ensemble numbers. Be sure to catch this production streaming online!
The Color Purple is streaming online until Sunday 7th March. Get your tickets here.
Featured Image Credit: Pamela Raith