A triumphant production based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer prize-winning (1985) novel this is an inspiring story of hardship and hope set in the rural American south.
As relevant today as it was when it was first written The Color Purple has had Joburg audiences on their feet. Walker's story is a powerful testament to the indomitable human spirit and the ability to rise above even the most unthinkable difficulties.
At its heart The Color Purple is a story of triumph over adversity that follows one woman’s struggle. Set in the American Deep South at the start of the 20th Century, the play opens with the young Celie and her sister Nettie dreaming of a better life. The 'pretty' sister Nettie dreams of an education, while the ‘useless and ugly’ Celie, dreams of escaping her sexually abusive father’s home. Celie is soon married off by her father to a violent husband who chases her sister away, leaving Celie broken and alone, and treated as a servant in her home.
Only the music of America's deep south filled with jazz, ragtime and blues, could do justice to a storyline such as this and the score by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell, and Allee Willis summons the sorrows of Celie’s life with rich blues numbers and soaring gospel.
When the glamorous and confident jazz singer Shug Avery (Lerato Mvelase) enters her life, the abused and neglected Celie is finally seen and heard and she summons the determination to stand up, talk back and reclaim her life from the hands of the abusive men around her.
From here on in the women characters dominate the stage and story. In a rousing second act that had the audience punching their fists in the air and hollering ‘yasss girl!’, the play’s resilient, forthright female characters inspire Celie to recognise her beauty and talent.
In a time when women the world over have begun to stand up and say #TimesUp #MeToo and #blacklivesmatter, The Color Purple’s themes of bravery, self-determination and female solidarity feel particularly appropriate.
Didintle Khunou as Celie blasts through the musical’s biggest numbers with grace and tear-jerking soul as she begins to transform from a meek battered wife into a spirited and successful businesswoman. Meanwhile the sassy, brassy, straight-talking Sophie (Neo Motaung) also proves a crowd favourite showing the domineering men who attempt to suppress her just where to go.
A rollercoaster ride of emotions that ends on an uplifting high, this is one of Joburg's most memorable theatre productions in years.