The Color Purple: Minnesota talent powers inspirational musical

A play review 

The Color Purple runs through February 15 at  St. Paul’s Park Square Theatre.
The Color Purple runs through February 15 at St. Paul’s Park Square Theatre.

I may be the only middle-aged Black man in Minnesota who has not seen the epic motion picture The Color Purple in its entirety. I may, in fact, be the only one in the Midwest.

However, after attending the opening night of the musical adapted from the book by Alice Walker, I feel like I was there in the place and time period, Georgia 1909-1949, that the play covered. It even took me back to the time and place portrayed in the scene titled “African Homeland.”

Even upon seeing the Minnesota musical star power involved in this production — led by the play’s music director Gary Hines of the Sounds of Blackness and including Ginger Commodore, Dennis Spears, Aimee K. Bryant, T. Mychael Rambo, Thomasiana Petrus, Jamecia Bennett and Regina Marie Williams — it was still rather difficult for me to envision The Color Purple as a musical. However, this 20-member cast ensemble did an excellent job of bringing that all to the lights.

The 16-scene production depicts the many struggles and obstacles faced by many Black people here in America, including Black-on-Black struggles. My favorite scene from the production is entitled, “Hell No!” This scene could and should be played repeatedly in this new century as it depicts both physical and mental abuse outcomes, none of which are good.

T. Mychael Rambo as Mister plays a good lead role as a man who is very abusive and decidedly power driven to the point of near-death but through it all makes a 360-degree turn for the better, learning to treat others respectfully — starting with himself.

We spoke to audience member Misty J. about the differences and similarities between the movie and play. She said, “The director of the play put in what could have been, and the movie told it more in harsh realities. The play made me feel good about being a Black woman today, and it involved a lot more spirituality than the movie. The vocals were very inspiring, often giving me goose bumps-like reactions.”

Currently playing at the Park Square Theatre Wednesdays thru Sundays with matinees on Saturday and Sunday, The Color Purple has a heavy spiritual flow that allows you to embrace and own the story.

Under the direction of Gary Hines, the music and vocals soar tremendously. Director and choreographer Lewis Whitlock, III did a great job with stage movement and overall juxtaposition, certainly of which scenic designer Seitu Jones contributed greatly. Costuming, done by Trevor Bowen, was excellent at keeping us attached to the time.

The cast was given a much-deserved standing ovation, and much recognition goes to the trio of gossiping vocalists known as the church ladies, played by Ginger Commodore, Samia Butler and Shirley Graham, who provided very excellent, entertaining scene segues that kept everything connected. This production receives three thumbs up.

The Color Purple runs through February 15 at St. Paul’s Park Square Theatre, 20 West 7th Place. For tickets or more information, call 651-291-7005 or go to http://parksquaretheatre.org.

Raymond Jackson welcomes reader responses to rayjack49@yahoo.com