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The Color Purple

Members say: Great acting, Great singing, Absorbing, Must see, Entertaining
59 reviews
2872 reviews

This stripped-down revival of the musical based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel won two 2016 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival. Directed by John Doyle and starring Tony winner Cynthia Erivo.

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This stirring family chronicle follows the life of a young black girl named Celie, as she journeys from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life. With a fresh, joyous score of jazz, ragtime, gospel, and blues, this new production from London features a minimalist staging.


Reviews (2931)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"'The Color Purple' has been born again, and its conversion is a glory to behold…The current version is a slim, fleet-footed beauty...There’s a deep wealth of power within its restraint…It takes hard work, ruthless editing and a spark of genius to make a miracle on Broadway. That’s certainly true of this 'Color Purple'...Celie may have started off cowed, but we’ve always sensed that there’s a rare spirit inside. That about sums up Mr. Doyle’s relationship, too, to this vitally reincarnated mu... Full Review


"It's a sheer delight to hear Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray's soulful score on a Broadway stage, performed by immensely talented vocalists…Doyle relies heavily on simple yet highly specific gestures to tell the story...This scaled-down production also allows the story, music, and performances to shine through in new ways…For adherents of the old-fashioned book musical, you can't ask for much more." Full Review


"John Doyle's bloodless, concert-like revival of 'The Color Purple;' a production that is fortunately saved by the talent and commitment of its fine ensemble of leading ladies…The score pushes all the expected buttons for this type of venture…While 'The Color Purple's' written material is rather standard, there's undeniable emotional pull in Walker's story…It offers a rare opportunity for three women of color to play complex leading roles while men are regulated to support." Full Review


"The ladies wear the pants in John Doyle’s ravishing revival of 'The Color Purple...' In a feat of reverse magic, Doyle’s minimalist production maximizes the strength and beauty of Marsha Norman’s book… The score has a sweeping populist appeal, sensitive to each character’s specific lyric mood…Both the beauty and the brains of the score are evident in the fact that each character’s signature song belongs only to that character." Full Review

New York Post

"'The Color Purple' is far from perfect. Marsha Norman’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel takes tons of shortcuts, careening from scene to scene at full speed. Characters, including Celie’s brutish husband, undergo drastic changes at the drop of a hat. But the show works in a primal way. Its pop-inflected score — though performed here on the cheap, with a skimpy, keyboard-heavy band — has surprising staying power. Your head may quibble, but your heart’s on board." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Doyle’s production intensifies 'The Color Purple' and brings out its deeper hues. The musical blossoms into a classic…Doyle’s elegantly minimal production keeps Celie in sharp central focus throughout…Celie’s journey has a clearer sense of direction than before...Erivo is supported by a mighty sisterhood of performers…This 'Color Purple' is a celebration of black women, and it fills you with appreciation for the musical’s return. It’s here, and it’s beautiful." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"This version is streamlined and stripped down. Doyle’s strategy allows the fine performances to brighten it up...The script is more schematic than the novel, its complexities sometimes reduced to cliches... The emotive content can tend toward soppy and it’s Doyle’s choice to lessen sentiment and to treat the characters coolly and truthfully. Every so often this backfires but the simplicity and seriousness is often welcome." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Mix Erivo and Headley together and you have two riveting star performances; when they are on opposite sides of the stage, you can barely figure out which way to look. The show itself remains a rouser...'The Color Purple' looks lustrous indeed. Add Ms. Headley to the mix and the overall enjoyment increases a couple of notches—without in the least detracting from Ms. Erivo’s lustrous star turn." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"A stunning, exhilarating and altogether joyful theatrical experience. Chalk it up to conceptual point-of-view, along with a handful of supremely satisfying performances…Doyle's process of stripping material down to its essentials and foregoing scenery doesn't work for every musical...It sure works here, though, revealing a beating, pulsing heart within the show...Midway through the 2015-16 season, 'The Color Purple' is already a highlight...You're likely to end up cheering." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Given the two-dimensional nature of Marsha Norman's book, it's not possible to add much in the way of nuance or character shading...The Color Purple is rich with incident, but the music never captures the sweep of the narrative...Cynthia Erivo, who here makes a stunning Broadway debut...Her work alone is probably reason enough for this revival." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"Capable of both exquisite nuance and shattering power...Director John Doyle has reduced the size of the cast by about a third, and cut some 20 minutes of dialogue. The stripped-down result somehow makes this entertainment feel closer to a spiritual experience, which is what Alice Walker intended." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Personal growth and even the passage of time are treated as, at best, vague ideas…Coupled with Doyle's 'musical staging' (it sure ain't choreography), which is dry, repetitive, and disinterested, this infects everything with a stale staidness that saps what soulfulness the writing conveys…This is a drab evocation of a journey that should excite and inspire, and one that's in desperate need of color beyond the one named in its title." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray’s gospel, R&B, ragtime, and jazz score is filled with foot-stomping, roof-raising, and seductively balladic numbers, performed by a vibrantly talented ensemble topped by the remarkable Ms. Erivo. Her acting remains conversationally honest, while her singing displays both sweet grace and rafter-shaking authority. Watching her evolve from subservient child-wife to proud, independent woman is an artistic revelation." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"The entire enterprise, in fact, is loaded to the wings with style, thanks to director John Doyle keeping things simple…The first thing to note is that their singing is glorious, from the goin’-to-church start straight through to the final, beautifully harmonized 'Amen'… The score is unusually strong compared to what passes for acceptable scores these days...Similarly, the lyrics remain pithy and germane…The show is a wonderful gift of the season." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"The musical version of the film version of Alice Walker’s novel is an exercise in treacly feel-good sentimentality, but Mr. Doyle’s scaled-down, ruthlessly cut version makes the best possible case for 'The Color Purple'...for all its own virtues, looks and feels like an off-Broadway show that made a wrong turn at 42nd Street." Full Review

AM New York

"This marks one of the rare occasions where a musical's revival manages to outshine the original production…At first, Doyle's production comes off as overly mannered and limited in movement. But on the whole, it is far more dramatically charged and focused than the elaborate but undistinguished original production. This feels less like a revival than a revitalization, or a new musical altogether." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"This revelatory overhaul is characterized by its grace, restraint and soaring spirituality, peeling back the excess to expose the life-affirming material's molten emotional core. It remakes a patchy musical as a thrilling one…This production's manifold acts of renewal go far beyond its remarkable performances…The quality of the singing throughout, and the beauty of the harmonies, cannot be overpraised…This very fine revival is not to be missed." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"A kind of theatrical CPR, restarting the heart of a show that, in its original production, seemed to die before your eyes…'The Color Purple' does still have its awkward elements: When the second act steps away from Celie, it loses focus and momentum…Doyle gets everything out of 'The Color Purple' that anyone could have thought to put in it...One of the best revivals ever." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Gospel-inspired songs get the show off to a slow start...The musical finds its stride when it lets down its hair with sexed-up songs...British director John Doyle shows his warm side. While his use of chairs as a visual statement feels a bit gimmicky, Doyle gets something very right with a bolt of fabric that subtly underscores the story of Celie’s rebirth. The show itself has had its own new start. 'The Color Purple' is bolder, brighter and deeper than ever." Full Review


"A revival of 'The Color Purple' that lifts an already formidable musical into greatness…Marsha Norman’s book cunningly trims the story to essentials, and the songs get the job done…'The Color Purple' is more than the sum of its considerable parts. It’s a fine old-fashioned celebration of endurance, grace and goodness, given a powerful African-American depth. If you can’t cherish those you have an impervious heart indeed." Full Review


"These are direct, accessible songs that are simply structured but not simple-minded. I appreciated the original as a big, old-fashioned, middle-of-the-road show...It is less big and feels newer now, but is still rich with characters adapted by playwright Marsha Norman. Doyle has cut what I count as eight songs from the score, a decision that eliminates some richness from the back-stories and makes Celie the show-stunner she deserves to be." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"For the first time in its long history of its dramatization, 'The Color Purple' has been afforded an incarnation fully in sync with one crucial aspect of Walker's original authorial intent — that the audience must participate in the imaginative act in order to comprehend its richness of theme and story. And, in this production, so they do. Willingly. Delightedly. When they are not rising to their feet to stop the show…The show's one weakness is the lack of attention to the conversion of Mist... Full Review


"The show still teeters between uplifting and tear-jerking, and is often rescued by its musical numbers...Ultimately, director Doyle properly emphasizes the characters' expressions of themselves through the show's songs, an eclectic mix of gospel, blues and pop numbers. It's in its musical moments that 'The Color Purple' is most alive." Full Review

The Wrap

"A sleek, vastly improved and altogether wonderful revival…Under John Doyle’s new, inspired direction the musical emerges as one of the most adult shows ever written…Doyle employs that same spare aesthetic for 'The Color Purple,' but this time he delivers what looks to be a big commercial hit…The new 'Color Purple' never loses sight of its Celie…Marsha Norman’s excellent book is essentially the same, but some of the songs have been cut." Full Review


"John Doyle’s imaginative direction, the powerful performances of Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks in their sensational Broadway debuts and a dynamic ensemble all make this stripped-down revival a magnificent experience...This majestic production of 'The Color Purple' gloriously proves that often in the theater less is more." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Poignant, Uplifting, Great singing, Soulful, Empowering

See it if you want to rejoice in feeling so many powerfulemotions, and leave with a most joyful, uplifting sensation. This production is resplendent

Don't see it if you disliked the movie or book, or if you are uncomfortable with the themes of rape, violence. Not for young children.

Absorbing, Must see, Profound, Resonant, Great singing

See it if You want to see some amazing singing.

Don't see it if You don't like strong women.

Great acting, Must see, Resonant, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want to be moved to tears & laughter in equal & oft times simultaneous intervals. Cynthia is EVERYTHING. Heather is EVerYTHANG.

Don't see it if you don't want to witness excellence. Or if you will watch of of the Jennifers. Even still, see it.

Uplifting, Entertaining, Powerhouse singing, Feministic, A great blend of humor, sadness, and everything in between

See it if you want to see the powerhouse performances of some top-notch women who will make your heart soar and the audience roar at any given moment.

Don't see it if expecting a complex set, intricate dance numbers, or lavish costuming. This is a thinking musical with beautiful subtlety rather than glitz.

Also I had the pleasure of seeing The Color Purple during one of the final ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like the book,you know the story, you like great acting

Don't see it if You don't like stories about the past

Overrated, Great singing

See it if you want to hear perhaps the most powerful singing on Broadway

Don't see it if you're expecting something more intimate and less over-staged

Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you like Alice Walker's novel, The Color Purple, you like Cynthia Erivo or great acting (she is incredible, as is most of the cast)

Don't see it if you want a light and fluffy musical--this deals with a lot of dark material. I also wouldn't say it's the best for kids, either.

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want to see an indelible, star-making performance from Cynthia Erivo as Celie - she brought the house down, and to tears

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with some dark material (rape, domestic abuse, etc.) - but this generally occurs off-stage

Absorbing, Delightful, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Loud volumn musicals are fun for you. Close to movie and book.

Don't see it if Staging and props are important to your theatrical expirence.

Absorbing, Intense, Profound, Resonant, Great singing

See it if you want to hear one of the greatest voices on Broadway. You're ready for a devastating story told in a visually sparse, musically lush way.

Don't see it if you want something happy, dance-y, colorful or fun.

Ambitious, Epic, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if If you'd love to hear Jennifer Holiday sing!! Cynthia Erivo got standing ovations before the show ended. Oprah produced a high quality show!

Don't see it if There's no reason not to see this show. It has everything you could possibly expect in a Broadway Musical that sells out every show. See it!

Intense, Must see, Relevant, Resonant, Great singing

See it if This was a wonderful production of a show that needs to be see by everyone! Cynthia Errivo is a godsend to the broadway community!!

Don't see it if Jennifer holiday is a little too old to play the part of Shug but does the part justice! Also sometimes the words were hard to hear

Absorbing, Resonant, Entertaining, Great singing, Enjoyable

See it if You liked the movie and enjoy musicals that have a message.

Don't see it if You didn't care for the movie, prefer splashy musicals with elaborate sets/ costumes and are very selective in the shows that you choose

Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to see an amazing musical. What they lacked in staging and costumes was made up by some of the best signers and actors I have seen.

Don't see it if not into history pieces. This isn't a fairy tale. This has some deep content, but was worth seeing. Most powerful singers I have heard!

Also Wasn't expecting to enjoy this, and I was really blown away. I saw the... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Must see, Riveting, Great staging

See it if You want to see a riveting story with perfect acting and strong music.

Don't see it if you don't like musicals and don't have a heart

Enchanting, Intense, Profound, Riveting, Great singing

See it if you want to see a great production of an okay musical with the most amazing cast that makes it feel like a great musical. Also Cynthia Erivo

Don't see it if you want to miss Cynthia Erivo's epic Broadway debut. If you dislike the simple staging which works better than the original.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if Your want to hear ridiculously amazing singing. Best i have ever heard live, left me awestruck. Worth the watch just alone for cast talent.

Don't see it if Themes of violence against women and incest bother you. Expecting to see the same thing as book or movie.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You love the Alice Walker novel and want to see one of the finest Broadway debuts ever -- Cynthia Erivo!

Don't see it if You loved the first production of this show. This one is far superior!

Great singing

See it if you like great gospel singing performed by terrific singers.

Don't see it if the story is important to you. The plot is rather simple but performed to the nines.

Exquisite, Masterful, Must see, Riveting, Great writing

See it if If you want to see what is probably the best show currently playing. Masterpiece

Don't see it if There is no reason not to see it.

Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Great voices. Well done

Don't see it if No reason not to see it

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Moving

See it if you want to see a great ensemble cast in a moving and surprisingly uplifting version of the show.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in Alice Walker's novel or don't like dramatic musicals

Delightful, Exquisite, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if with one of the best casts on broadway. the entire cast, writing, staging is amazing. Even if you know the story, there is something new.

Don't see it if if you dont want to be blown away. Color purple is not recommended for young children due to the nature of the subject matter. powerful

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Resonant, Great singing

See it if You loved to original, the novel or the movie. it's a masterclass in acting and singing & is revelational. It's a star turn for a bway debut

Don't see it if For ANY reason. It's amazing and brilliant

Great acting, Masterful, Great writing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if For Cynthia Erivo. This show is spiritually and emotionally engaging in the most beautiful way. Please don't miss this opportunity.

Don't see it if There is absolutely NO reason NOT to see it.