October 2017

The Color Purple: A Soaring Musical that Celebrates the Human Spirit

Author: Andrea Gannon

The Color Purple, named Best Revival in the 2016 Tony Awards, played its final performance on Broadway on January 8 of this year. The critically-acclaimed and audience-beloved revival opened December 10, 2015, and starred Cynthia Erivo, who won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. Now this uplifting show is making its South Carolina premiere at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, opening the theater’s twenty-second season and running October 4-22.

Based on Alice Walker‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title, The Color Purple explores 40 years in the life of a family in rural Georgia. At its center is 14-year-old Celie, who is forced by her overbearing father to marry a farmer. Although she is separated from all that she loves, Celie ultimately conquers the odds to find her voice and her strength.

The Arts Center production’s creative team includes direction by NYC’s Evan Pappas, musical direction by Michael Bagby, choreography by Todd Underwood, lighting design by Brian Riley, scenic design by Sabrinna Cox, costume design by Jennifer VanBuskirk, and sound design by Aaron Bockley.

With the unwelcome arrival of Hurricane Irma, the cast of 15 rehearsed in New York City in Lincoln Center’s Education Studio. They were originally scheduled to start rehearsals the week of the evacuation at the Arts Center, but the swift decision was made to begin instead where most actors reside: the Big Apple. As a result, the production didn’t miss a beat—literally.

Pappas said, “I’m so thrilled to do this show. These are some of the most beautiful characters ever written. The Color Purple was a book, then a movie, and now a musical. Not all books translate so seamlessly and with such grace, but this is a work that transcends those forms and speaks for itself.”
Not only is the story powerful and ultimately triumphant, but the award-winning musical score of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues is masterful.

“We were so delighted to be able to attain the rights to do this breathtaking musical, especially since it just closed this year on Broadway,” said Kathi Bateson, president and CEO of the Arts Center. “The musical illuminates the strength of the human spirit in overcoming adversity through faith, love and dignity. We are not only proud for The Color Purple to be our season opener, but also to have several hundred school-aged students within the Lowcountry attend daytime field trip performances to experience this magical production right here at the Arts Center.”

The 2015-2017 Broadway production garnered 11 Tony nominations and won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, two Drama Desk awards, and the 2017 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.

Tickets for preview performances October 4-5 are $42 for adults and $29 for children ages 5-15; regular performances, October 6-22, are $52 for adults and $39 for children. Reserve seats online at artshhi.com or call the box office at (843) 686-3945. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina is located at 14 Shelter Cove Lane, on Hilton Head Island.

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