top of page

THE COLOR PURPLE: (The Musical) 2023 (We watched on Max but also available on Hulu. It’s a rental on Prime Video.) Alice Walker's The Color Purple story has become an integral part of the American literary canon. It subsequently entered the world of film and theater with both the creation of a critically acclaimed but controversial 1985 feature film directed by Steven Spielberg, a hit 2005 Broadway musical and a much lauded 2015 musical revival. They all tell the story of Celie, a Black woman living in the South in the early 20th century. It is a testament to her resilience and the joy she finds in the face of extreme hardships—namely, the horrific sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse she suffers at the hands of both her stepfather and her husband. The original film version was in 1985, starring Whoopi Goldberg as Celia and Oprah Winfrey as Sophia. Its release was steeped in controversy, with boycotts over its depiction of Black men and criticisms of having Spielberg handle the film instead of a Black filmmaker. The title of the Walker novel refers to a moment between the novel's protagonist, Celie and Shug. Shug points to a field with purple flowers and tells Celie “God gets angry when you walk past his beautiful creations and don't notice.” The musical film version is directed by Blitz Bazawule and adapted for the screen by poet and playwright Marcus Gardley. The latest iteration of The Color Purple is a moving musical affair that features a star-studded cast that includes Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Colman Domingo as Mr., and a scene-stealing Danielle Brooks as Celie's daughter-in-law, Sofia. It also presents in her film debut Fantasia Barrino as Celie. (Brooks and Barrino both reprise their roles from the productions of the stage musical.)  Gary and I couldn’t figure out how they could make a musical out of a story about suffering and survival, but they did, and they did it splendidly. The songs and the dancing were superb. They fit the story perfectly. GRADE A

bottom of page