Beginning Nov. 7, Detroit audiences will have a chance to experience the 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival, “The Color Purple,” during the national tour’s eight-show Detroit run at Fisher Theatre.
Detroit native Angela Birchett, cast member of the national tour, believes audiences will enjoy the new, more stripped down version of the iconic story.
“I was blessed to be a part of the Broadway company, and I still get excited every time we do the show,” said Birchett. “From the beautiful music to the storytelling to just the way the set is so minimal, you can’t help but to feel like you’re right in the middle of the story because there is nothing there to distract us. It’s just wooden chairs and desks. That’s it. We tell the story that way. I think all of those things together make this story so special.”
Birchett, actress, singer and dancer, credits the musical foundation she had while growing up in Detroit as being the catalyst for her success on the stage.
“I’m a proud product of Mosaic Youth Theater, and I got quite a bit of my training and just building my confidence as a performer from being a part of Mosaic. Also, I went to Renaissance High School where we had an amazing music department. Between the two and my involvement with my church, Greater Grace Temple, that kind of prepared me for what would later become a full-time career. A lot of opportunities I had in Detroit helped to build and shape me as an artist to get me where I am today.”
Making its Broadway debut in 2005, “The Color Purple” tells the story of the Celie Harris Johnson, portrayed by Adrianna Hicks, during the 1940s in rural Georgia as she attempts to find herself during a life of seemingly constant adversity, an abusive husband and the loss of her children and sister Nettie. The story culminates with Celie finding love and her voice after developing a unique relationship with her husband’s mistress, Shug Avery, played by Carla R. Stewart.
“At the beginning, Celie feels it doesn’t matter what happens on earth because heaven goes on forever,” Hicks said. “She doesn’t realize there’s heaven on earth, too. Shug Avery helps her to get to that point, to understand, hey, God is all around you.”
More than three decades after the film’s debut, John Doyle, Tony Award-winning director of the play, believes Celie’s fight for racial, economic and gender equality remains timelier than ever considering the cultural climate of today.
“The story is as relevant — more relevant, sadly — than it has ever been,” the director said. “It’s so important right now, politically, racially. The musical asks the question, Do you want to beat people down or give each other an opportunity in life? That’s what this piece is about. And I’m thrilled more people in the country are going to see it.”