Carla R. Stewart (Shug Avery) and Adrianna Hicks (Celie) and the North American tour cast of The Color Purple.
Carla R. Stewart (Shug Avery) and Adrianna Hicks (Celie) and the North American tour cast of The Color Purple.
Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Color Purple Comes Back to Houston With Hope

The Color Purple is the story of Celie, a young African-American woman who has been raped by her father and given birth to two babies that he’s taken away from her and how she somehow finally perseveres.

Important to her journey of self-awareness, eventual independence and happiness is Shug Avery, the jazz singer and mistress of Mister, the man Celie has been married to. Carla R. Stewart is playing the role of Shug in the national tour coming to Houston courtesy of Broadway Across America.

Describing her character, Stewart says, “Shug is very independent and strong. There’s more to her than what the eye can see. She is very encouraging but you don’t see that right off the bat.

“She let’s her guard down a little bit. She can be a little bit selfish, but she grows to where she’s OK with expressing her heart." At first, Shug comes in and tries to tear Celie down, but that stops, Carter says, when she discovers "that this is a beautiful person."

The musical follows the 1982 book by Alice Walker that won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Steven Spielberg made a movie about it in 1985 and the musical and Broadway production earned 11 Tony award nominations in 2006.

Asked why the story continues to draw audiences, Carter says: “The Color Purple goes beyond color and gender. It’s one of those pieces where you go on a journey and you’re trying to find love and triumph you don’t know how you are going to get there. When you realize other people are going through things just as much as you are and you just really try to open your self to hope. Everyone wants to have that sense of home.”

Performances of The Color Purple are scheduled for January 9-14 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the HobbyCenter, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $35- $165. 

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