In a season of plot lines that show the negative side of life, the new revival of The Color Purple at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre is full of hope and inspiration. I see Tony gold for this production. Hands down, this is my favorite show of the year.
The Color Purple, is based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which became the 1985 Oscar nominated film with Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. In 2005 The Color Purple, landed on Broadway, but failed to find audience love. This revival will not suffer that fate. This production is set free, with minimal props and allows the glorious singing, acting and heart and soul of this piece to shine through. For two and a half hours, you are mesmerized by what you see on stage and by the end you cannot wait to get on your feet and applaud as loudly as you can. This show is infectious.
The show spans four decades of Celie’s (Cynthia Erivo) life in the South and the people who affect her life. From rape at the tender age of twelve by her father, to two pregnancy’s where she thinks her father has murdered her children, into the forced slavery of marriage to Mister (Isaiah Johnson), to her moment of breaking free and becoming independent, we follow this journey of triumph despite all odds. Celie’s love for her sister Nettie (Joaquina Kalukango), who she has taught how to read and write, becomes estranged after Nettie runs away and her letters are kept from Celie. But it is this love that sustains Celie.
Ironically the men of this time used the slavery once used on them to keep their women in line. Fathers, brothers and cousins, only saw women as objects to rape, work and take care of their every need. Few were truly loved. Celie, is considered ugly, which makes this torturous life even worse.
Here it is the people in Celie’s life that teach her what was never taught, courage, confidence and self-love. First is her stepson Harpo’s (Kyle Scatliffe), new wife, the larger than life Sofia (the magnificent Danielle Brooks). Sofia, too has been abused but Hell NO! she is not taking this anymore, that is until she upsets a white women.
In Mister’s ex lover Shug (Dreamgirls Jennifer Hudson), she learns love, as a lesbian affair takes place. Shug is a preacher’s daughter-turned-saloon singer, who sees the beauty in Celie. It is because of Shug that Celie finally learns her sister and the two babies she thought had been killed are alive.
This cast is sensational. There is not one weak link. Vocally this is spectacular despite music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray who created a score that doesn’t stay long in your mind. One of the biggest questions in my mind is who will win the nod for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical? Is it the full bodied and gripping performance of Danielle Brooks as Sophia or the elegant, superb performance of Jennifer Holiday as Shug. Both of these women have triumphant moments in the show. Make no mistake though Cynthia Erivo as Celie knocks this role out of the park. She is memorizing and exquisite to watch as she plays the gamut of emotions, ages and situations. We love her, feel her pain and cheer endlessly when she declares her stance of hope, faith and perseverance.
Marsha Norman’s script cuts to the bone, as John Doyle has created a piece of theater that will live in my memory for years.
My one negative comment is to the sound designer Gregory Clarke. Get yourself into the balcony because you can barely understand the dialogue, let alone the lyrics despite being in the first row. But despite this flaw this show is so moving that I wish tickets for the The Color Purple for all my women friends and the men who love them. This show is truly a blessing.
The Color Purple: Bernard Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th. St.
And The Winners of The 2023 Drama Desk Awards Are ………
The 2023 67th Drama Desk Awards, honoring artistic excellence on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, will take place on June 6 at Sardi’s Restaurant. Today the winners were announced.
Outstanding Play: “Leopoldstadt,” by Tom Stoppard
Outstanding Musical: “Some Like it Hot”
Outstanding Revival of a Play: “The Piano Lesson”
Outstanding Revival of a Musical: “Parade”
Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play: Jessica Chastain, “A Doll’s House” and Sean Hayes, “Good Night, Oscar”
Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical: Annaleigh Ashford, “Sweeney Todd”
and J. Harrison Ghee, “Some Like it Hot”
Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play: Miriam Silverman, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” Brooklyn Academy of Music and Brandon Uranowitz, “Leopoldstadt”
Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical: Kevin Del Aguila, “Some Like it Hot” and Alex Newell, “Shucked”
Outstanding Direction of a Play: Max Webster, “Life of Pi”
Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Thomas Kail, “Sweeney Todd”
Outstanding Choreography: Casey Nicholaw, “Some Like it Hot”
Outstanding Music: Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, “Shucked”
Outstanding Lyrics: Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, “Some Like it Hot”
Outstanding Book of a Musical: Matthew López and Amber Ruffin, “Some Like it Hot”
Outstanding Orchestrations: Charlie Rosen and Bryan Carter, “Some Like it Hot”
Outstanding Music in a Play: Suzan-Lori Parks, “Plays for the Plague Year,” The Public Theater
Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play: Tim Hatley, “Life of Pi”
Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical: Beowulf Boritt, “New York, New York”
Outstanding Costume Design of a Play: Emilio Sosa, “Ain’t No Mo’”
Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes, “Some Like it Hot”
Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play: Natasha Chivers and Willie Williams (video), “Prima Facie”
Outstanding Lighting Design of a Musical: Natasha Katz, “Sweeney Todd”
Outstanding Projection and Video Design: Andrzej Goulding, “Life of Pi”
Outstanding Sound Design of a Play: Ben & Max Ringham, “A Doll’s House”
Outstanding Sound Design of a Musical: Scott Lehrer and Alex Neumann, “Into the Woods”
Outstanding Wig and Hair: Mia M. Neal, “Ain’t No Mo’”
Outstanding Solo Performance: Jodie Comer, “Prima Facie”
Unique Theatrical Experience: “Peter Pan Goes Wrong”
Outstanding Fight Choreography: B.H. Barry, “Camelot”
Outstanding Adaptation: “A Doll’s House,” by Amy Herzog
Outstanding Puppetry: Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, “Life of Pi”
Shows with multiple wins
Some Like It Hot: 8
Life of Pi: 4
A Doll’s House: 3
Sweeney Todd: 3
Ain’t No Mo’: 2
Prima Facie: 2
Harold Prince Lifetime Achievement Award
Stephen McKinley Henderson has been bringing in-depth, gripping portrayals of memorable characters to the stage for over four decades. With his return to Broadway this season as Pops in “Between Riverside and Crazy,” which the Drama Desk previously nominated in 2015, this year’s Harold Prince Lifetime Achievement Award marks Henderson’s role in this powerful production as a celebration of his brilliant career.
The cast of Soho Rep’s “Public Obscenities” – Tashnuva Anan, Abrar Haque, Golam Sarwar Harun, Gargi Mukherjee, NaFis, Jakeem Dante Powell, and Debashis Roy Chowdhury – embodied the transnational world of Shayok Misha Chowdhury’s bilingual play with memorable authenticity, remarkable specificity, and extraordinary warmth.
Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award
From his standout performance in american (tele)visions, to writing and performing the autobiographical “Dark Disabled Stories,” Ryan J. Haddad’s work this season has expanded on and interrogated what the idea of “accessibility” really means. Whether riding a shopping cart like a throne, or relating his experiences on a “gay, pink bus,” Haddad shared with audiences an unabashed queer fabulosity that was both unforgettable and deeply human.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Remembering Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd
On Sunday look for a brand new charcuterie of Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford in Sweeney Todd.. I loved the new production, and it’s two leads.
League of Professional Theatre Women’s 10th Annual Women Stage The World March
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) will hold its 10th Annual “Women Stage the World March” — a Suffragette-inspired project to educate the public about the role of women in the theatre industry — on Saturday, June 17. The march will begin at noon, at Shubert Alley and weave through Times Square and the Broadway Theatre District, wrapping up at about 2 p.m.
“The event is FREE and LPTW invites all theatre women and allies to join us as we increase awareness, lift our voices, and advocate for more opportunities for women in theatre,” said Ludovica Villar-Hauser, Co-President of LPTW.
“The Women Stage the World March is designed to educate the public about the role women play in creating theatre and the barriers they face as men continue to outnumber women by 4 to 1 in key roles such as playwright, director and designers. Women buy 67% of the tickets and represent 65% of the audience, yet 80% of the storytelling on stage is shaped by men’s voices,” said Katrin Hilbe, Co-President of LPTW.
Handouts during the March will prompt ticket-buyers to ask three questions as they make buying decisions: (1) Who wrote, directed and designed this play? (2) What is this theatre’s track record in giving opportunities to women? (3) How can you spread the word and promote women’s voices?
“All participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite historical theatre woman, or dress all in white. March participants will gather at Shubert Alley starting at 11:30 AM, in preparation for the start of the march at noon. Women Stage the World sashes and signs will be provided, as supplies last,” noted Penelope Deen, LPTW member and organizer of the event. Those interested in participating in the event please R.S.V.P. at: https://www.theatrewomen.org/women-stage-the-world or contact Penelope Deen at: Womenstagetheworld@Theatrewomen.org
LPTW Co-President Ludovica Villar-Hauser added: “The League of Professional Theatre Women stands alongside the Writers Guild of America (WGA) as they demand fair wages and take action to ensure more protections for artists. We encourage LPTW members to find a time to join the WGA on the picket lines this month as the strike continues. Women writers are the future of the film and television industry, just as they lead the way in theatre. LPTW supports the women on the frontlines of this movement as they call for long overdue change. We are stronger together.”
For the past 10 years LPTW members, affiliated union members, theatre artists and their allies have hit the streets in a March reminiscent of the Suffragette parades of the early 20th Century, with some marchers dressed in traditional suffrage garb and colors. Like the Suffragettes before them, participants in the Women Stage the World March empower women and men to become aware, take action and influence others.
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) is a membership organization championing women in theatre and advocating for increased equity and access for all theatre women. Our programs and initiatives create community, cultivate leadership, and increase opportunities and recognition for women working in theatre. The organization provides support, networking and collaboration mechanisms for members, and offers professional development and educational opportunities for all theatre women and the general public. LPTW celebrates the historic contributions and contemporary achievements of women in theatre, both nationally and around the globe, and advocates for parity in employment, compensation and recognition for women theatre practitioners through industry-wide initiatives and public policy proposals. LPTW is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Chicago
John Kander & Fred Ebb / Bob Fosse musical Chicago is now the longest running show playing on Broadway. Having played 10,338 performances, Chicago is the Tony Award-winning, record-breaking hit musical playing at the Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St., NYC.
Ham4Ham: Some Like It Hot, Parade and Shucked With Special Guests
Lin-Manuel Miranda brought out a. special edition of Ham4Ham outside the Richard Rodgers Theater yesterday and it was a star studded afternoon.
First up Leopoldstadt stars Josh Molina and Brandon Uranowitz introduced Some Like It Hot‘s J. Harrison Ghee, who performed “You Coulda Knocked Me Over With a Feather” accompanied by the show’s composer, Marc Shaiman. You can watch the beginning of this and the whole performance of that song here.
Then Nikki Crawford and playwright James Ijames from Fat Ham, introduced composer Jason Robert Brown and performers Ben Platt and Michaela Diamond who perform the duet “This Is Not Over Yet” from the must see revival of Parade.
The Thanksgiving Play stars D’Arcy Carden and Chris Sullivan introduced book writer Robert Horn and the Tony-nominated cast of Shucked recreated new lyrics for “We Love Jesus” and a parody of Hamilton‘s “The Story of Tonight.”led by Ashley D. Kelley, Grey Henson, Andrew Durand and Kevin Cahoon
This was a spectacular afternoon that can only be had in NYC.
T2c would love to thank these three ladies who gave us a chair to sit on.
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