Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
This powerful revivaloriginallypremiered in London at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013 to sell out audiences, and was so successful that it transferred to Broadway taking with it the stunning performer Cynthia Erivo as Celie. This new Broadway cast recording captures the powerhouse performance of Erivo and intensifies it with the inspired addition of Jennifer Hudson in the role of Shug Avery and Danielle Brooks as Sofia.
The Color Purple tells the story of a young girl Celie and her journey to find love and happiness in the oppressive 19th century society of the “deep south”. Raped by her father and married off to the first man who would have her, Celie is a down trodden and powerless woman but over time, and with the help and advice of strong women like Shug and Sofia she begins to find her place in the world.
Every song is brilliantly performed and with its clever mix of soul, ragtime, gospel and jazz, this recording holds its listeners interest from beginning to end. As it is such a lyrically heavy musical the absence of dialogue between the songs does not make the story incomprehensible and the clearly written synopsis that comes with the CD fills in any storyline gaps that there may be.
Performed to perfection the emotion oozes from the cast members; from the energetic and gossip filled opening number Mysterious Ways sung by the company through to the heart breaking duet What About Love? sung with beautiful harmonies by Erivo and Hudson – this beautiful number is painfully reprised later when Celie and Shrug desperately want the other to understand their own desires and needs, but this is not to be. The music is a pacey mixture of ballads, chorus numbers, solos and duets each one complimenting the rest of the recording. Miss Celie’s Pants is a needed injection of humour, Erivo enthusiastically and with gentle comedy narrates how, by chance, Celie becomes a self-supporting business woman.
This is an incredibly high standard recording of a beautiful and hard hitting musical. Strong characters, story and music make this a recording that you would return to again and again, as a whole album or just to listen to key songs. A beautiful and emotional experience that will stay with you long after the music ends.