Just like its main character Celie who overcomes all odds, the national tour of The Color Purple came to the Hobby Center this week and soared in sound and spectacle -- despite a few sound and lighting glitches during opening night -- ultimately redeemed by its strong message and dramatic use of light and dance.
Last year's two-week stand was shortened to one with the arrival of Ike, so there were a lot of people left waiting for this Tuesday night's opener.
Standouts were Celie (of course) played by Kenita R. Miller. Short of stature and armed with a powerful voice, Miller made the perfect Celie who, raped by her "father," is forced to give up her two babies and then handed over to the odious "Mister" who treats her abominably and calls her ugly.
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Mister, played by Rufus Bonds Jr. was suitably evil and eventually redeemable. Felicia P. Fields was an audience favorite as Sofia, the "Hell No" wife who won't be beaten down by husband or whites. Shug Avery was played by understudy Reva Rice who did a fine job with the woman who went to Memphis and carved out a life of her own.
The three church ladies (Kimberly Ann Harris, Virginia Ann Woodruff and Lynette Dupree) would go toe to toe with any Greek chorus in history.
Beyond that, the dance scenes added a whole other layer, especially the African dances. The second act seemed stronger than the first, perhaps because that's when so many of the characters came into their own.
The show runs through August 23. Whether you've read the book or not, if you're a fan of a good story, strong dancing and powerful singing voices, The Color Purple would be a good use of your theater dollars.