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Passion, Love & Freedom | The Color Purple at Drury Lane Theater

I share a deep passion and love for this wonderful gift that just keeps on giving. The Color Purple. First a 1983 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by living legend Alice Walker, then turned into the 1985 Academy Award nominated film directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Quincy jones, staring black actors who are now Black Hollywood royalty. Including Whoppie Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margret Avery and everyone’s favorite auntie thee Oprah Winfery. Who then took this film that had meant so much to her, and teamed up with Scott Sanders, to produce the 2005 Tony Award Winning Musical, staring LaChanze, and Felicia P. Fields. Followed by a Tony Award Winning Revival in 2015 Directed by Jon Doyle, and a show stopping Tony Award winning performance by Cynthia Erivo. Drury Lane takes on this award winning revival. This fall here in Chicago. 

“The Color Purple” tells the story of Celie, an African American woman in the American South during the early 1900s, as she navigates her love for her family, the strife of being in an abusive relationship, and her adoration for her beloved children. 

Opening to a sold-out house on yesterday evening September 19, 2019| This felt like a family reunion. Hugs and kisses, laughs and picture taking, pure excitement and genuine love was certainly in the atmosphere of the Oak Brook, IL venue. Directed by Lili -Anne Brown, Drury’s Color Purple, is a comprehensible fusion of both the Original Broadway production and the Tony Award winning Revival. Brown’s direction is exquisite without a doubt. Brown used transitions in the first act to answer questions those of us have had for years about certain characters within the script. Writers sometimes do not tie the loose ends of the script and leave them for the director to fix. And Lili-Anne was the fixer tonight. The faultless staging of this entire production could stand up against John Doyle’s revival staging and sound a mighty roar. Not to mention the epic scenic design by Arnel Sancianco. Trap doors, on screen projections, and more this set is truly full of surprises scene after scene. Still giving you the Broadway Revival minimalistic detail. One major detail of Drury’s production that left me confound was, Breon Arzell’s choreography. The revival version was said not to have choreography however staged movement, Arzell’s choreography was technical and very captivating. A bit over used in certain scenes, however it was great to see choreography put back into this piece. Arzells Africa truly felt like a trip to the motherland, blended with Samantha C. Jones costume designs, This scene screamed perfection and a tribute to Wakanda on the Oak Brook, IL stage. 

Eben K. Logan leads the cast as Celie, and gives us a pure and heartfelt performance, co starting a Chicago favorite Sydney Charles, whos performance as the Sultry Diva Shug Avery stands second to none. The breakout performance of the evening goes to Nicole Michelle Haskins as the tough, but yet soul drenching Sofia. From her first moment on stage I was engaged and connected. I wanted to see how this rigorous pregnant young adult, will become a front line feminist. Haskins, delivered a performance that all the preceding Sophia’s would be proud of. My Second show stopping performance of the evening goes to Harpo, (Gilbert Domally) the growth of Harpo from start to finish is truly a journey from boy to man. Domally’s characterization of Harpo is a work of art that is flawless from start to finish.

Drury Lane, has something special happening out in Oak Brook. At a time in the world where political chaos and murder stays in the headlines. A woman’s decision about her body is in the hands of lawmakers, We have a production that celebrates life, love and happiness in finding ones self. 

Directed by Lili-Anne Brown, choreographed by Breon Arzell, and music direction by Jermaine Hill, the production features Eben K. Logan (Celie), Sydney Charles (Shug Avery), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Sofia), Melvin Abston (Mister), Gilbert Domally (Harpo), and Kyrie Courter (Nettie). The cast also includes Jos N. Banks, Sean Blake, Shantel Cribbs, Melanie Loren, Chuckie Benson, Marvin Malone II, Gabriel Mudd, Adhana Reid, Camille Robinson, Alexis Roston, Lorenzo Rush Jr., and Joey Stone. The creative team includes Arnel Sancianco (Scenic Design), Samantha C. Jones (Costume Design), Cat Wilson (Lighting Design), Ray Nardelli (Sound Design), and Paul Deziel (Projection Design) 

The production runs September 13 – November 3 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. For more information visit 

Frederick Alphonso-

Staff Writer /Theatrical Critic 

Bring It Black Chicago 


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