We were lucky enough to be invited to come and watch the Wales Millennium Centre’s latest musical treasure, ‘The Color Purple’. Set in the 1900s southern America, it follows the life story of Celie, a black girl who grows up in the oppressive world of racism and violence, who has to fight with everything she has to find her own way in the world.
From the brilliant mind of the award-winning novelist Alice Walker, and brought to life on stage by Tony award-winner Marsha Norman, this show will leave you moved and inspired, as you laugh, cry and hold your breath from the first note.
The show manages to achieve something that is often very difficult to do with a story like this- make you laugh. The story itself is dark and tragic, with heart-breaking and often hard to watch themes, but perfect the comedic timings left the audience laughing throughout. To adapt such an iconic, well-known classic is no small task, but I was impressed by how well they were able to stick so closely with the book, while also taking their own creative license in execution and it worked very well.
I knew very little about the score going in, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the incredible talent of every cast member gave me goosebumps running up my arm. The influence of jazz, blues and gospel music left you wanting more. With powerful, energetic songs such as, ‘Mysterious Ways’, ‘Hello No!’ and ‘Celie’s Curse’, as well as beautiful melodies that tug on your heart strings, such as, ‘The Colour Purple’, ‘What About Love’ and ‘Too Beautiful For Words’.
This was one talented cast! I was particularly impressed by Me’sha Bryan, who played Celie. Aside from her ability to take on this monumental role, in which she hardly ever leaves the stage from start to finish. The way she played Celie from aged 14 and throughout the difference stages of her life; changing her voice, her posture, her mannerisms. You could almost be convinced they were all different people. Incredible! The relationship between Me’sha and Bree Smith, who plays the infamous Shug Avery, was wonderful, if not a little heart-breaking, to watch. And the talent of Ahmed Hamad (as Harpo), Anelisa Lamola (as Sofia), Ako Mitchell (as Mister/Albert) and all the other cast mates gave this show life onstage, earning a well-deserved standing ovation.
I loved the staging and set in this show. In it’s simply nature, it allowed you to centre your focus on the story and the projections on the, mainly blank, background, guided you through the timeline of the story with ease. And the use of the colour purple was often subtle but effective, highlighting all the key turning moments in Celie’s life.
This show will not only leave you feeling moved but also inspired by her strength and perseverance. There is no one more deserving of a happy ending (and a standing ovation) than Celie.
The Color Purple: The Musical will be at the Wales Millennium Centre until the 22nd of October and this is a must-see so go and get your tickets now!
For more information about the show and where you can buy tickets, head over to the Wales Millennium Centre website
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Photography by Manuel Harlan