Adriana Hicks performs in "The Color Purple." Courtesy STG Theatre Group
“The Color Purple” at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, presented by Seattle Theatre Group and Broadway at the Paramount, is on now through July 1. Act quickly to see this rousing, Tony Award-winning Broadway show.
“The Color Purple” centers around Celie, an African-American woman in the American South of the 1920s, coming into her own at a time in history when women of color had few options. Repeatedly raped and impregnated by her father from a young age, she’s sent off to marry a cruel and abusive husband who forces her into a life of servitude and isolates her from her beloved sister. The story follows her 40-year journey to find love and belonging in unexpected places: from her strong-willed and determined daughter-in-law, from a traveling polyamorous performer she takes as a lover and from a host of other rag-tag characters from her community.
The bottom line:
From start to finish, I found "The Color Purple" a stellar show. Everything from set design, to acting, to musical performances was masterfully done, starting with the set. Plain by design, it lent an air of modesty to each scene fitting for the humble beginnings of the show’s main character, Celie. But in time, and with small costume and prop additions, its bare beauty became a bold statement all on its own. Celie too, played by Adrianna Hicks, was deceptively modest… at first. With softer, simpler performances at the show’s start crescendoing into one show-stopping solo number after another by show’s end. In fact, Hicks' portrayal of Celie transforming from meek and downtrodden to confident and self-actualized was evident in every aspect of her performance.
Carla R. Stewart (Shug Avery) and Carrie Compere (Sofia) also gave all-star performances. The syncopated rhythms and hauntingly soulful harmonies of “The Color Purple’s” Grammy-winning score of blues, jazz, ragtime and gospel evoked the experience of black churches I attended as a child. And I mean this in the best possible way: with members of the audience clapping and shouting in approval on the night we saw the show.
Though “The Color Purple” is a period piece, there are many themes throughout the novel — and in this Broadway adaptation — that feel particularly timely: Women of color must still fight for dignity and humanity in a world that often sees them as less than. Black women can (and do) find ingenious ways to survive, but the work of a better world shouldn’t rest squarely on their shoulders. Ultimately, “The Color Purple” reminds us that black women deserved better then and still do now.
Parents Should Know
- Though the STG website recommends “The Color Purple” for ages 8 and up, I think my kids would be fairly troubled by many themes in the show. It deals with subjects such as rape, incest and intimate partner violence as well as sexual empowerment. My personal recommendation is that this show is best reserved for teens and up. If you do take younger kids, be prepared to have some complex conversations.
- The show runs 2 hours and 25 minutes, with a short intermission midway through.
- The lobby has concessions and snacks, including alcoholic beverages.
- If you’re bringing kids, or you're sure to need a restroom break, consider picking a seat that allows you to exit the theater easily for bathroom breaks. The short intermission isn’t enough time to make it to the restroom given the extremely long lines.
If you go…
When: "The Color Purple" plays through Sunday, July 1 with tickets available for five remaining performances.
Tickets: Buy online or in person at The Paramount Theatre's box office (Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.) Prices are $30 and up.
Parking: Several garages and pay lots are nearby the theater, though street parking, if you can find it, makes for a quicker getaway after the show. Consider transit or a Lyft or Uber to avoid parking hassles.