'The Color Purple' has opened at the Mercury Theater Chicago (3745 N Southport Ave.) and is running through October 27, 2013. Taking place in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female black life in the 1930s in the southern United States, and addresses social issues including their exceedingly low position in American culture.
Nominated for eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Color Purple features joyous Grammy nominated gospel, jazz, pop, and the southern blues music. The musical was adapted for stage by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner Marsha Norman with Music and Lyrics by Grammy Award-winners Brenda Russell, Alee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The character of 'Celie' was played by the incredible Trisha Jeffrey and had a fantastic supporting cast that was almost too good to specifically point out certain people. There truly wasn't a character that didn't exceed expectations in their very unforgettable role.
Set in a comfortable theater space, the Mercury offers excellent sight lines and excellent acoustics that compete with many of Chicago's largest theater venues. The show was a true testament to the healing power of love and a celebration of life.
Having never read the book or seen the movie starring Oprah Winfrey, and also never having attended any type of church service, I felt that I didn't completely understand the humor and sarcasm that a lot of the beginning of the show included. I felt alone in the center of the 5th row. When everyone laughed, I didn't understand the humor. That being said, the first act (1 Hour, 15 Minutes) is very slow. A lot of character building is done and storylines are deepened. At the intermission, I thought that I might leave -- I just didn't get it. I wasn't impressed with the acting, nor the story.
I was wrong.
The second act began where the first left off, and it was fantastic. I began to understand the story, where it was going, and the show began to grow on me. The story, the lighting, the set entranced me, and I was left inspired -- wanting to go home and watch the movie. After I left the Mercury, I came to the conclusion that the actors in the first act weren't 100% on their game and came out slightly raw on opening night. In the second act, they came out strong, refreshed, and everything came together.
For a small theater company on Southport Corridor, I recommend checking The Color Purple out before it leaves in October. Tickets are available online HERE, or by calling 773.325.1700.