New York | 2h 20m | Already closed

The Color Purple (Broadway)

From 59 critic and 2,997 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Great singing, Absorbing, Must see, Entertaining

About the show

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. More…

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.

2h 20m | Already closed | Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (Midtown W)

Musical Theater Review

"Director John Doyle’s wondrous redo of 'The Color Purple' may be minimalist, but it’s drenched in emotion. At the same time, he has gloriously amped up this Broadway musical’s power as a feminist battle cry...The moment-by-moment reactions of the talented ensemble to the ups and downs of the story’s major characters, both musically and dramatically, fairly crackle." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"This show blows the ceiling off this Broadway house like no other…Cynthia Erivo as Celie is by far giving us something to stand up and cheer for…Probably one of the best performances you will see this theatre season, and Act 2 is a slam-dunk if there ever was…The others, every last one of them, deserves the standing ovation they get…Doyle directs this simply and elegantly, with a perfect touch of comic energy coupled with a dynamic message of empowerment." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Lessons of tolerance, redemption, forgiveness, and, most importantly, self-acceptance are smartly delivered here, and no one will walk out as a non-believer. John Doyle’s physically-stripped down and laser-focused production hits you squarely in the heart and soul...the lack of spectacle is more than made up for by the sharpness of the storytelling, the superb direction, and the brilliant performances." 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

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 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


"Director John Doyle, who’s won acclaim for pared-down stagings of big musicals, here whittles it down to its essentials and tells Walker’s decades-spanning story with the help of just a few sheets, baskets, and a dozen or so wooden chairs. The result is captivating, intimate, and wholly affecting." Full Review


"The result is a 'Color Purple' that feels uncommonly humanized and approachable...After two-plus hours, the show comes to feel visually static....But 'The Color Purple' gathers force and dimension as it goes, so that the mid-song shouts of approval from the audience and the spontaneous standing ovation are fully justified. This musical — after 'Hamilton,' the best of the current Broadway season — manages to leave you at once emotionally reeling and utterly elated." Full Review

Los Angeles Times

"I'd be happy to see this transformative revival at least a dozen more times…A spiritually transcendent theatricalization of the tale that had me silently shouting 'hallelujah' and 'amen.' Doyle is aided by a glorious female cast…Through this directorial legerdemain the drama achieves the force and fluidity of a Gospel service. ...Emotion soars as despair and despondency give way to forgiveness…'The Color Purple' has finally found the freedom it needed to attain sublimity." Full Review

BackStage Barbie

"Two Sundays ago, I went to church twice: Once at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, and again at the Jacobs Theatre. This phrase is often used liberally, but John Doyle's revival of 'The Color Purple' is unequivocally a religious experience...Doyle has taken a show that was clunky in its first incarnation, stripped away everything but the necessities, and presented a production that is emotionally charged in its simplicity...Cynthia Erivo is giving the female performance of the season." 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 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

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

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


"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

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


"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

Bob's Theater Blog

"By concentrating attention on the show’s talented performers and the lively gospel-inflected score, Doyle has come up with a production that packs an emotional wallop. The superb cast act and sing at a very high level...Marsha Norman’s book has a lot to cover in a short time, but mostly succeeds in capturing the essence of Alice Walker’s novel. Since I had never heard of any of the composer/lyricists, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the score." 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

Broadway & Me

"I'm usually no fan of director John Doyle's work...But Doyle's revival of 'The Color Purple' knocked me out. And that's almost entirely because he had the good sense to cast Cynthia Erivo as the show's star…Doyle has stripped the show down to its elements and this is a much simpler production than the original…This streamlining places all the weight on the music and the performances…Erivo as Celie is truly sensational." 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

USA Today

"'The Color Purple' is a story of redemption, and Doyle and his cast do a miraculous job of capturing that essence, down to its spiritual core, without getting preachy or mawkish. There are too many wonderful performances to mention…Doyle allows flashes of caricature; but by the time you leave the theater, wiping tears from your eyes, you won't remember them. Instead, you'll relish the power and grace of this show, and emerge uplifted." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"In John Doyle’s emotionally rich and visually striking new production there is an elegant staging and three gorgeous star performances…Marsha Norman made the still-horrible parts of Celie’s story less devastating, and she allowed for the sunny, redemptive second half of the second act...The staging works remarkably well...As usual with Doyle, the streamlining allows the script’s emotion to shine clearly through." Full Review

As Her World Turns

"This powerful story is given a first class Broadway revival under the direction of John Doyle...Holy cow does this story pack a powerful emotional wallop...It’s among the most powerful stories I’ve ever seen on stage, and if you’re not ugly crying by the end of the show, then you have no soul." Full Review

Riveting, Refreshing, Must see, Great singing, Delightful

See it if you love a good story with beautiful singing

Don't see it if you dislike shows that use minimal sets

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

See it if If you believe that history still exist

Don't see it if Your blind to the world

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Great singing, Masterful

See it if you like to theater. It is an absolute must see.

Don't see it if you don't like thinking about race, class, and social justice.

Absorbing, Great singing, Masterful, Must see, Riveting

See it if you want to see one of the most brilliant Broadway performances ever - Cynthia Erivo

Don't see it if you have no soul

Exquisite, Great singing, Intelligent, Insipid, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to laugh, cry and feel things that you didnt know theatre could make you feel

Don't see it if have taste.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Black women are god, Riveting

See it if You want your face melted off from the singing going on. If you want a nuanced view into the lives of black women in the south.

Don't see it if you hate singing, directing, and all the other elements that culimate together to create a breath taking show.

Also I cried four times.

Absorbing, Great singing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You love a cast full of talented singers.

Don't see it if You do not have an appreciation for awesome performers of color

Great singing, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You loved the movie you'll love the show. The singing is great as well. And it was funny

Don't see it if You want to see a show with dancing

Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Must see, Riveting

See it if you are able to. It was amazing with a stellar cast and riveting story.

Don't see it if you are a racist

Great singing, Great staging, Great writing, Masterful, Must see

See it if you would enjoy the best singer on Broadway (IMHO), Cynthia Erivo . She steals the show.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy Broadway shows.

Ambitious, Exquisite, Great singing, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if you are alive. Even before Cynthia takes the stage, the ensemble blows you away. it is empowering. it is beautiful. it is a must see.

Don't see it if just see it.

Absorbing, Intense, Must see

See it if You want to be in a room full of some of the best talent on Broadway. The voices and acting were impeccable. Cynthia Erivo is incredible.

Don't see it if I can't think of a reason not to see this show.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Great singing, Resonant

See it if this show is traveling, because it is a show and a book that everyone should see and read! Storyline that captures your attention from start

Don't see it if you didn't enjoy the book, because while there are differences the show was quite similar to it.

Resonant, Masterful, Great singing, Epic, Must see

See it if want to see a truly amazing outstanding cast, life-changing performance, terrific singing, love Cynthia Erivo, overall INCREDIBLE!

Don't see it if can't handle some drastic scenes

Absorbing, Must see, Breathtaking

See it if you love Cynthia Erivo! She completed this amazing piece of art and I wish it was on broadway longer.

Don't see it if There's no reason not to see it it was incredible!



Don't see it if You don't want to cry

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Great writing

See it if i loved it great singing would go back

Don't see it if no comments

Exquisite, Great singing, Masterful, Must see, Resonant

See it if You have a soul. I saw this show twice and there are not many shows I would see again, but this is one I can watch over and over again.

Don't see it if You have no soul.

Must see, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Great singing, Absorbing

See it if have the opportunity. Must see.

Don't see it if There's no reason not to see this show.

Absorbing, Great singing, Must see, Resonant, Profound

See it if You want to see some amazing singing.

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

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great singing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you want to hear some great, inspring and moving voices, songs and acting. The message is conveyed with perfection.

Don't see it if you are just a buster looking to find something wrong


See it if beautiful interpretation

Don't see it if N/A

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great singing, Great writing, Intense

See it if you've read the book, watched the movie and/or love Broadway shows in general. One of the top 5 shows I've seen. Entertaining until the end

Don't see it if want something light. This was a fabulous show, must see.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Great writing, Intense

See it if You want to be moved and inspired.. The music was brilliant and the stripped down staging allowed for the story to come through brilliantly.

Don't see it if You are with children under the age of 12.

Great singing, Must see, Relevant, Resonant, Absorbing

See it if You love the story of hardship and women/ you want to hear Cynthia Erivo's magnificent voice/ want to be taken to church

Don't see it if Don't like soulful songs or want to see a light show

Cast & Creatives (39)