"full-on stage fest of performance"
by Debra Hall for remotegoat on 08/07/19

Everyone was wearing their excited faces at Leicester Curve’s press night event. Not one single-person enthusiasm, (whether a member of the team, the cast, the band or the audience) would have been in any way quashed throughout the whole shebang.

This show is full of wonderful, soulful tunes and is a total win-win for this co-production of The Color Purple by Leicester Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome. Audience reaction was all embracing.

Does it deeply explore and hammer hit home the strong themes of racism and sexism, rape, abuse and incest? Hell No! The handwritten letters which communicate Celie’s journey and that of her sister, Nettie, are secondary readings to what is a full-on stage fest of performance related activities that tells its own tale; in its own way.

The serious elements are present, but playful comedy acts as a release every time from the heavy topics, this comes in the form of three gossipy women (often singing in a round); a woman (or two) scorned, and in the colourful, Shug Avery character and the way she carries through life.

Highly entertaining is the comedic interjections of Sofia and Harpo; and so much fun is their musical duet ‘Any Little Thing’; performers Karen Mavundukure (ITV X-Factor) and Simon-Anthony Rhoden (West End) shine as this true love pair.

Overall this is a sheer celebration of a culture related love of jazzy, bluesy, gospel and soul channelling music, song and dance, rather than a long and labouring focus on a young girl’s oppression.

Beautifully authentic are the cast and when a number of players perform Africa (Act 2), in stunning African dress of azure blue, it is nothing short of stunning in all respects.

Too many production attributes to mention here, but Alex Parker (Musical Director) and a collective of talented musicians, and Alex Lowde (Set and Costume Designer) provides input that is vital. The creatives involved earn proportionate high praise for their work to that of Tinuke Craig, Director. Great job all!

There is not a single cast member who doesn’t possess anything less than an exceptional ability to deliver the most amazing vocal performance, and that the solo numbers by Ako Mitchell (Mister Song) and T'Shan Williams (I’m Here) are nothing short of incredible!’

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