Posts Tagged ‘alice walker’

The Color Purple proves a perfect holiday production

“Push Da Button” featuring Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery). Photo by Scott Suchman.

The Color Purple is an award winning book by Alice Walker, and an excellent and amazing read that I highly recommend (ditto the 1985 film).  But with much disturbing and depressing subject matter, I was not sure how successfully Broadway would manage to adapt this book into a musical — or if I wanted to start out the Holiday Season by watching it.  Even so, it was one of the shows I was looking forward to the most this season.

Dayna Jarae Dantzler (Celie) and Traci Allen (Nettie). Photo by Scott Suchman.

I definitely was not expecting to exit the Center for Performing Arts Tuesday with a smile on my face, but that is exactly what happened.   From the very beginning of the show the CPA was filled with bodies swaying to the music, toe tapping and jiving in the seats.  The show is emotional and moving, sexy, violent, sweet, heartbreaking and heartwarming.  The show does touch on the hardships that Celie must endure through much of her life, and the horrifying events that lead up to her losing her children and her sister at age 14 (yes, 14).  Most people who have read the book or seen the film will always remember the truly horrendous things that happened to her – but many people do not remember on what an uplifting note the story ends.  And this ending is only the exclamation at the end of a very uplifting story.  The unredeemable are redeemed in the story, the downtrodden are lifted up, and the meek rise to the top.  No one rides off into the sunset to live happily ever after here, but hope and faith are restored to Celie, and there was not a dry eye in the audience when it was over.  The last few minutes of the show were filled with sniffling and inconspicuous eye wiping – but they were all happy tears!  What better Thanksgiving story than this – if Celie has something to be thankful for, so do we all.

The production itself is the best of the season so far.  Every detail was top notch; it is hard to pick out any one thing to gush over.  Set design, lighting, costumes, it was all great…  but this is the first time I was really, really impressed with the choreography.  Donald Byrd was nominated for a 2006 Tony award for The Color Purple, and it is evident why.  He impressively draws the audience in to participate in a lively church service in the South, we work on the farm with the handsome, shirtless field workers, we join in with the joyful dances of the 20s to the 40s, and then we sit in awe as we watch the native African dancers perform their unfamiliar but breathtakingly beautiful moves.  Every dance was simply outstanding.

The cast performs “African Homeland”. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Every single actor is incredible in the show.  Everyone from stars Dayna Jarae Dantzler (Celie), Edward C. Smith (Mister), Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery) and the awesome Pam Trotter (Sofia), down to every single background actor – it was all played to perfection.  There were often anywhere between 17 – 22 people on stage at a time, but they were all set in smaller groups playing perfect individual characters so that you wanted to take in every individual little scene at once. The singing, dancing and acting talent on stage at any one time was just unbelievable.

The show is playing through November 28 and I definitely recommend you take a break from the holiday rush to see it.  It was a packed house on Tuesday and everyone had a great time.  Despite some disturbing content, it is really a joyous story about love and triumph over life’s obstacles and the restoration of faith; it is about forgiveness and redemption, and most of all, never ever ever giving up hope.

It is my favorite of Broadway San Jose’s shows so far this season. Go see it. You will leave the theater happy and ready for the Holidays.

The Color Purple
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
November 23-28
Tickets:  415 792-4111
Not recommended for young children. Fine for high school age at parent’s discretion. Some scenes depicting or insinuating sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

It’s time to start planning your November show nights!

We survived the many great October shows, now we have an even more packed November!  This month I can honestly say I am VERY excited about every one of these shows.  These are the ones we are set to review this month – get your tickets now!

Flying Karamazov Brothers

The Flying Karamazov Brothers
The San Jose Repertory Company
November 10 – 14
Welcome to the zany world of The Flying Karamazov Brothers, where the daring and goofy take center stage. This ground-breaking blend of nouveau cirque, comedy, theatre, music, and, of course, juggling is nothing short of genius. Innovative and unique, they display their juggling prowess in such show stopping numbers as “The Gambler.” In this daring act, the Karamozov champion Dimitri will juggle three items presented to him by audience members. If the champion succeeds he gets a standing ovation. If he fails, he gets a pie in the face! This exuberant and hilarious off-Broadway rave is full of fast-paced virtuosity and fun as the four brothers deliver a stupendously entertaining evening like you’ve never experienced.

As if that wasn’t fun enough: The audience is encouraged to bring zany items to the theater for the Karamazov champion to juggle!

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night
San Jose State University Theatre
November 12 – 20
Theater director Kathleen Normington and English Professor Dr. Adrienne Eastwood are continuing to draw a great deal of attention with their provocative steampunk Shakespeare production.  Director Normington intends to use the steampunk aesthetic to style the production and highlight some of the themes of disguise and gender ambiguity within the play.  Dr. Eastwood, as dramaturge, is helping to guide the marriage of steampunk visuals with Shakespeare’s written words into the creation of a beautiful new version of the play.  This combination is sure to bring Twelfth Night’s message to a wider audience in unexpected ways.  DO NOT MISS this innovative vision that will stay true to its original ideas.


Opera San Jose
November 13 – 28
She’s a superstar: brilliant, beautiful, and spoiled. Yet Floria Tosca, despite her wealth and privilege, cannot save her aristocratic lover without consenting to debase herself. An opera diva as wildly popular in 1800 Rome as any rock or movie icon today, she finds that living for “art, love, and prayer” isn’t enough to protect her in a society run by wicked, powerful men. She is a beauty pursued by a beast determined to have her, and killing her stalker – chief of the secret police, Baron Scarpia – still doesn’t end her suffering. Suicide is her final act of defiance

The Color Purple

The Color Purple
Broadway San Jose
November 23 – 28
A soul-stirring musical based on the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the moving film by Steven Spielberg. It is the unforgettable and inspiring story of a woman named Celie, who finds her unique voice in the world. Nominated for eleven Tony® Awards, THE COLOR PURPLE is a landmark theatrical event, a celebration of love, and a Broadway phenomenon. With a joyous GRAMMY®-nominated score featuring jazz, gospel and blues, THE COLOR PURPLE is capturing the hearts of young and old, and uniting audiences in a community of joy.

Backwards in High Heels

Backwards in High Heels
The San Jose Repertory Company
November 24 – December 19
The remarkable life of the legendary actress Ginger Rogers comes to life onstage!
This intimate musical dances its way through Ginger’s life with unforgettable music, show-stopping dance numbers and a captivating story that chronicles her journey from hometown to Hollywood and from one love affair to another. Best known as Fred Astaire’s dance partner, Ginger defied her overly-protective mother to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and one of the industry’s first women to demand equal pay. Funny, moving and a visual feast, Backwards In High Heels is a toe-tapping, swirling, gliding account of her ambitious public and private life.

A Wonderful Life (Musical)

A Wonderful Life (MUSICAL)
Hillbarn Theatre
December 2 – 19
Although this show starts in December I want to make sure you are all notified in time.  Hillbarn has been putting on consistently fantastic productions, and has been selling out of many shows.  I’ve had my fill of Wonderful Life over the years, but I am truly excited to see Hillbarn’s new musical version.  I’m sure it will be a Don’t Miss production!

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