Broadway Across America in Indianapolis, Clowes Memorial Hall, Dec. 29-Jan. 3. This fine, all-around production merits its awards as a musical reincarnation of a powerful story originally told in print and then in film. The emotional sweep and family-community panorama that drive Alice Walker's novel are brilliantly compressed in the libretto by Marsha Norman, music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, and choreography by Donald Byrd. The cast of 25 hustles to give the feel of a hundred and the leads are perfectly paired to their fully dimensional characters, allowing the audience to connect and care about them despite their foibles.
It's not a pretty story, experiencing with Celie abuse to her and what she witnesses by and to others all around her over a span of forty years. Billed as "the musical about love," it's often biting, raucous, mis-directed, but what ultimately triumphs is sisterly bonding on various levels and in multiple configurations and Mister's surprising ability to overcome his bitterness and grow into a forgiving and compassionate person.
While strewn with one-liners to relieve tension and make us laugh, it's the wisdom-words that stick with us when we leave: finding within ourselves the power and strength to nurture the bountiful best within ourselves; finding beauty in simple things that surround us, such as the "color purple flowering in a field."
Tickets can be purchased online at BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com, in person at Clowes Hall Box Office, downtown at the Murat Theatre or by calling 1-800-982-2787.