The Color Purple Warms Hearts at SpeakEasy Stage Company
Quinn Banford ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
While The Color Purple is an emotionally heavy story, the SpeakEasy Stage Company enraptures its audience with bursts of lighthearted comedy and powerful song. This is not to say the musical abandons the reality of its characters and their painful stories for the sake of a hearty laugh. No, this musical shows how great tragedy calls for great comedy. This is seen best when these two affects bind together with song.
Celie, played by Lovely Hoffman, loves her children and her sister more than anything in the world. She is a victim of a vicious patriarchy, blaming God for her down-and-out position as a verbally and physically abused woman. Hoffman does a fantastic job expressing her character’s shining and good nature despite looming evils in her path. Her presence onstage is beautiful. With an astounding voice she wins the audience over in her soliloquized quiet moments, performances with the emotional pull of a violin quartet.
It seemed that every performer was spot on with the flow of the production. Cruel and unnerving, Maurice Emmanuel Parent as Mister gave the audience a reason to grimace. The nature of his character is an affect of a tough father. To see Parent’s ability to transition Mister through his negative characteristics rewards the audience with an interesting sort of redemption.
Performances from Aubin Wise, Valerie Huston, and Jared Dixon are among other supporting roles which deliver great reward from their talent. Wise plays Nettie, Celie’s sister, innocent and always charming. Huston brought every audience member onto her side as Sofia, the confident and (by far the funniest) feisty character onstage. Try not to admire her, that’s a dare. For Dixon, his boyish attitude and range of a voice placed him as the most respected masculine figure onstage. His marriage with Sofia is like no other, and the two play off of one another as though they were really married. These supporting roles gave this musical the comedic entertainment necessary to balance the grim subject matter.
Full of moral lessons, The Color Purple avoids a kitschy possibility and delivers its audience exactly what it wants: a warm performance for a dreary winter night. The Color Purple is the winter musical to see in order to melt those grimy winter feelings.
The Color Purple runs through February 8th at the Speakeasy Stage Company. For tickets and/or more information visit http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=purple.