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The Color Purple Is Full of Life

Gale Curcio
By Gale Curcio
Posted on Apr 22,2011
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,
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Photo by Scott Suchman<br /> <br />
Photo by Scott Suchman
"Push Da Button" featuring Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery).

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The audience started applauding before the first song ended and didn’t let up until well after curtain call.
 
"The Color Purple" at the National Theatre was that kind of show – grabbing the audience from the beginning and didn’t let go until the end.

This production, produced by Phoenix Entertainment-Joyful Noisemakers LLC, helmed by Stephen Kane and Michael McFadden, is the next phase in the life of the ground-breaking Broadway hit musical produced by Scott Sanders.
 

Photo by Scott Suchman<br /> <br />“Mysterious Ways” featuring Kadejah Oné (Church Soloist) and Phillip Brandon (Preacher).  <br />
Photo by Scott Suchman
“Mysterious Ways” featuring Kadejah Oné
(Church Soloist) and Phillip Brandon (Preacher).

The original Broadway musical opened on December 1, 2005, and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  It ran for more than two years on Broadway, followed by a three-year first national tour.

The play is based on the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the film by Steven Spielberg.
 
It is the unforgettable and inspiring story of a woman named Celie, who finds the strength to triumph over adversity, and discover her unique voice in the world. With a joyous, Grammy-nominated score featuring gospel, jazz, pop and the blues, The Color Purple is about hope and the healing power of love.  

The play is directed by Gary Griffin and features a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman, music and lyrics by Grammy-winning composers/lyricists Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, and choreography by Donald Byrd.  
 
Rounding out the creative team are Tony Award winner John Lee Beatty (sets), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Tony winner Brian MacDevitt (lighting), Craig Cassidy (sound design), Steven M. Bishop (orchestrations/arrangements) and Jasper Grant (music director).
 
With seamless scenery changes, it easily transcends from rural Georgia to the wilds of Africa, where Celie’s beloved sister, Nettie, is working as a missionary. A split-view shows that violence exists in both their lives and the future seems uncertain.

The three female leads were strong, both in their singing as well as their acting. Dayna Jarae Dantzler, who played Celie, said that she is thrilled to embark on her next tour with this company and she gives thanks to her mother for her everlasting love and support.

Pam Trotter, who plays Sofia is originally from St. Louis, now residing in Los Angeles. Pam said that she is extremely thankful for the opportunity to play the role of Sofia, another dream-come-true. She has appeared in various TV productions, including: “Hawthorne,” “Chuck,” “Dollhouse,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “My Name is Earl.” She also appeared in the movie, Dreamgirls and on Stage in: Ain’t Misbehavin’, Smokey Joe’s Café, Big River, Blues In The Night and numerous others.

Photo by Scott Suchman<br /> <br />The Church Ladies.  From left to right: Nesha Ward, Deaun Parker and Virlinda Stanton.
Photo by Scott Suchman
The Church Ladies. From left to right: Nesha
Ward, Deaun Parker and Virlinda Stanton.

Taprena Augustine was strong as Shug Avery. She was with the national tour of The Pajama Game (Mae) and the regional production of Little Shop of Horrors, where she played Ronnette/Suzi and was an Award nominee.

The male leads were equally as impressive. Edward C. Smith, who plays Mister, has been a lifelong disciple of the theatre. His favorite roles portrayed include: Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar, John in Miss Saigon, Capt. Davenport in A Soldier’s Play, Delbert Tibbs in The Exonerated and King Amonosro in Aida, which toured throughout China and North America. He is delighted to be a part of The Color Purple cast.

Cameron J. Ross plays Harpo and is ecstatic to be a part of The Color Purple family. A native of Houston, Cameron attended the New School University. His recent credits include Hairspray and Feeling Good, a showcase directed by Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Favorite credits include Hot Mikado, Dreamgirls, The Wiz, Once on this Island and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

The three church ladies, DeAun Parker (Church Lady Jarene), VirLinda Stanton (Church Lady Darlene) and Nesha Ward (Church Lady Doris) did a great job of chronicling the events of the show, with their wild outfits and their witty comments in the songs they sang.
 
IF YOU'RE GOING...
 
THE COLOR PURPLE runs through April 24, and features special guest star Lil’ Mo as the Church Soloist. Tickets start at $51.50, are on sale now at the National Theatre Box Office, and through Telecharge at Telecharge.com or by calling 800-447-7400. For groups of 10 or more, call 866-276-2947. For more information, call 202- 628-6161 or visit www.NationalTheatre.org. Performance Schedule: Tuesday – Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Friday, 8 p.m.,, Saturday, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., and  Sunday, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.



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