On the same day as the Seyi Omooba employment tribunal ruled she was not unfairly dismissed from her role in the 2019 production of The Color Purple (because of homophobic comments she had made), a virtual press night was held for the latest incarnation of the show, filmed at Curve Leicester and now streaming until 7 March at curveonline.co.uk.
The Color Purple is a classic, early twentieth century, coming of age drama, released as a novel in 1982 and then as a motion picture in 1985 starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. It tells the story of a young African-American girl named Celie and shows the way women were treated in the early 1900’s, married off to men who ‘owned’ them and treated them as nothing but baby making machines and housekeepers. In the film, we don’t really see the girls express their thoughts and feelings (because they were not allowed to have any) but the musical allows the women to have more of a voice.
The musical adaption premiered on Broadway in 2005 and made its Off-West-Wnd debut in 2013 at the Menier Chocolate Factory. The musical now returns to Curve to reprise its 2019 production, filming and releasing virtually due to the pandemic.
The cast of this production are faultless. The good thing about well-filmed musicals, is that the ensemble are just as visible as the lead performers and so every performance is clearly seen. It is safe to say that this is a strong, powerful, female led show with powerhouse performances from T’Shan Williams as Celie, Danielle Fiamanya as Nettie, Karen Mavundukure as Sofia and Carly Mercedes Dyer as Shug.
The Color Purple is wonderfully filmed and well worth the £20 ticket price for the quality of the production you see in return. The songs are a glorious mix of Gospel, Jazz and Blues and the costumes are a gorgeous burst of autumn colours and pastels.
This is an important story that shows how humanity has changed over the past century and whilst it is a blessing that most people no longer have to live like this, it is important to learn and understand the history behind it.
A movie musical of The Color Purple is in the works with a current release date of 2023. Casting for the film is not yet known.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Pamela Raith