#TheColorPurple: ‘Beautiful and here’
SA talent shines in the stage adaptation of award-winning author Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’ now showing at the Joburg Theatre.
JOHANNESBURG – Many may remember the movie better than they do the book, but The Color Purple is in fact based on a 1982 novel by Pulitzer Prize recipient Alice Walker.
Walker tells the tale of women living in the dirty South through the eyes of young Miss Celie, whose life revolves around her sister Nettie and other stern female figures like the sexy singer Sug’Avery and the ol’ tough gal Miss Sofia.
In its first major international revival since its Broadway run in 2005 and 2015, the musical, which is now showing at the Joburg Theatre, is a dazzling adaptation with an all-South African cast whose enchanting voices take you right to the cornfields of Georgia where the story is set.
At first, it may be a struggle to get past the rolling, round sound of faux American accents but as soon as the beat drops and the feet start tapping, the stage comes alive in the most captivating manner.
With very few words said in dialogue, the singing makes for a seamless transition from one scene to the next – from the colourful sounds of children playing, the heart-wrenching realisation of the sexual abuse and incest, the hood gossip, stardom and the ‘independence' it brings, same-sex relations, to the bold determination of women refusing to accept denigration in any form.
GALLERY: The Color Purple in pictures
Familiar faces in the cast include Aubrey Poo (who plays Mister) whose career spans across TV and stage, with his most recent feature being in Marikana the Musical; Lerato Mvelase (who plays Sug’Avery) who graced South African screens as Samkelo Mkhize in the popular Tv series iSibaya and vocalist Thokozani Nzima aka Zano.
Lead actress, Didintle Khunou (Celie) has a voice larger than her tiny stature. She skillfully portrays the ups and downs of a girl often called ugly and denied the right to dream with her melodic rendition of the songs.
Neo Motaung plays Sofia, a role made famous by Oprah Winfrey when she (in the movie) stood up against her husband when he had beaten her.
WATCH: The Colour Purple: Fight My Whole Life
Though it felt a little too long, having lasted over two hours, the music and choreography brought life to the simple design of the stage and props made of wooden pallets.
If my daughter were old enough I would take her tomorrow! But I will buy her the book and hope her imagination takes her to where the play took me.
But for those of you who are old enough to decipher the subtle yet profound symbolism, appreciate the feminist messaging and the artistic display of African-American history, this is a wonderful experience that you should gift yourself and others.
The Color Purple is on at the Joburg Theatre until 4 March 2018.