The Color Purple (Broadway)
Closed 2h 20m
The Color Purple (Broadway)
93

The Color Purple (Broadway) NYC Reviews and Tickets

93%
(3035 Reviews)
Positive
99%
Mixed
1%
Negative
0%
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.

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Member Reviews (3035)

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80
Relevant, Engrossing, Ambitious, Intense, Great singing

See it if you enjoy great singing (Erivo is a knock out) and spare, effective staging. Charged with emotion, TCP tells of Southern women's plight.

Don't see it if you want redemption to feel real (the villain even improves). The underpinnings are too religious for my taste, but the performances soar.

85
Absorbing, Entertaining, Profound, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if You're a fan of glorious singing and real human drama. Truly uplifting.

Don't see it if You don't like gospel music.

Critic Reviews (59)

The New York Times
December 10th, 2015

"'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 musical."
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Time Out New York
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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The Hollywood Reporter
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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Entertainment Weekly
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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Variety
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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The Wall Street Journal
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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Deadline
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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The Washington Post
December 10th, 2015

"Doubtless the best version of this 2005 musical you are ever going to hear...A sleek, fast-paced treatment — virtually a concert version…This overly episodic musical still doesn’t quite measure up to the genre’s top-tier shows: although Celie’s evolution is capably recorded, the transformations of some of the other characters remain unpersuasive…There’s more than enough combustibility on that stage to compensate for any occasional energy deficits."
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Chicago Tribune
December 10th, 2015

"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 Mister."
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Los Angeles Times
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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New York Post
December 10th, 2015

"'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."
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New York Daily News
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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AM New York
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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NY1
December 11th, 2015

"It's refreshing to revisit this show packed with so much raw energy and vocal talent. Gone are the big sets, costumes and choreography. In their place - a simple yet profound telling of a complex work that cuts right to the bone."
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Theatermania
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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BroadwayWorld
December 11th, 2015

"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."
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Lighting & Sound America
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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TheaterScene.net
December 19th, 2015

"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."
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Theater Pizzazz
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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CurtainUp
December 10th, 2015

"'The Color Purple' is a rewarding show thanks to some powerful performances…The book that Marsha Norman has written for this musical version is admirably terse but far from frail…This production will certainly please those who enjoy the City Center Encore series of staged musical revivals, while others may feel a little cheated by its economy of production values. At its best, Doyle's artistic choices never compromise Marsh Norman's tough and tender book."
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Front Mezz Junkies
December 31st, 2015

"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."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
December 19th, 2015

"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."
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DC Theatre Scene
December 16th, 2015

"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."
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The Guardian (UK)
December 11th, 2015

"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."
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The Clyde Fitch Report
December 11th, 2015

"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."
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B
June 23rd, 2016

"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."
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The Huffington Post
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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The Huffington Post
June 3rd, 2016

"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."
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The Wrap
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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Broadway & Me
January 9th, 2016

"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."
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USA Today
December 10th, 2015

"'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."
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Newsday
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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Towleroad
December 11th, 2015

"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."
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NorthJersey.com
December 11th, 2015

"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."
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WNBC
December 10th, 2015

"The limited staging puts the focus on the score…The intimate relationship between Celie and Shug is handled here both tenderly and directly…Broadway’s latest incarnation focuses almost entirely on song, but it’s still the same joyous and uplifting journey."
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M
December 11th, 2015

"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."
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NY Theatre Guide
December 21st, 2015

"The revival of 'The Color Purple' might be the ideal musical to second-act. You’ll miss some bald exposition and confusing staging, some showboating performers...But you’ll witness an emotional progression and wrap-up that’s extremely satisfying despite the hard-to-swallow turns of plot and character, and you’ll hear the better half of the score. Most of all, you’ll see a star being born."
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Out Magazine
December 14th, 2015

"Director John Doyle has pared things down in that way he has and given it new life with a production that comes to Broadway in very good shape...The show is very heavy on the music, coming off like an American folk opera, while Marsha Norman’s script adaptation is half nightmare, half wish-fulfillment, as Southern woman Celie endures all manner of oppression and abuse before standing up for herself, indulging in lesbian love, and even becoming a designer!"
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NJ.com
December 10th, 2015

"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."
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The Associated Press
December 10th, 2015

"Doyle's pacing in the first act is so swift that there's little time to breathe as misery seems to visit Celie without release — losing a sister, marrying a monster, endless work, beatings, abandoning her kids. Things loosen up in a more airy second act…The score is a happy melting pot of melodies, from gospel to jazz and R&B. Doyle and this company are best just letting Erivo and Hudson sing and the memorable renditions keep coming: "
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BroadwaySelect
January 4th, 2016

"Superb in this new revival is Cynthia Erivo, who breaks our hearts early on...The score by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray is not one of Broadway’s greats, but it does offer pulsating music and a nice boogie-woogie number, too. At least every song – each and every song — is brilliantly sung by the vocally blessed cast...You’ll find yourself brought into the action, which will then have you bringing your hand to your moist eyes and cheeks."
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As Her World Turns
January 7th, 2016

"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."
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Financial Times (UK)
December 10th, 2015

"John Doyle’s production, which slims down the musical, also makes an overwhelming virtue of the small-scale. Though I found this staging cumulatively poignant, I will not pretend that 'The Color Purple' belongs in the pantheon…If Doyle’s production still takes the story too fervently to church, it also allows a place for subtlety…The entire ensemble bring precision to the songs’ mixture of blues, gospel and pop uplift."
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Show Showdown
April 15th, 2016

"A deeply moving novel, 'The Color Purple' is a lot hokier and less convincing on the stage. Stripped from its literary moorings, the plot comes off as just as sad, but also more farfetched, which doesn't always work. Also, the score isn't bad, but it didn't much stick with me or compel me to take a deeper listen, either. Still, the cast is strong and the direction swift and engaging. And despite the moments that don't land quite right, I still teared up a bunch, and chuckled a bunch too."
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Peconic Public Broadcasting
December 14th, 2015

"Well Jennifer’s very good but the rest of the show is way better than I could have imagined. And (cliché expected) a star is born by the name of Cynthia Erivo,..The story which is way more confusing than I dare to get into...Now all this description probably sounds like it could be pretty dull. To answer that I can only say that to have an opportunity to see Ms. Erivio will be one of the best theater-going experiences you will ever have."
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Village Voice
December 29th, 2015

"John Doyle strips away the glamour and largesse...With stronger source material, this approach can shine radiant light on a classic, [but] Marsha Norman's book lacks both subtlety and a sense of pacing... The score offers some downright catchy hooks but is unforgivably thin on content...Hudson thrills, but it's Cynthia Erivo who unearths the soul. Erivo's voice reverberates throughout her body with a fury that ignites the show with purpose — if one that's only fleeting."
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BackStage Barbie
March 14th, 2016

"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."
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TheaterScene.com
December 22nd, 2015

"To say that this cast is brilliantly talented is a vast understatement. Not only are the principals awe-inspiring, but every member of the ensemble brings a divine voice and total conviction to the show. Director John Doyle has stayed faithful to Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, but has showcased the essential heart of the story with very little embellishment onstage."
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The Telegraph (UK)
December 11th, 2015

"The 40 year-sweep of the narrative has been judiciously streamlined...The result is a production that is tight, taught and powerful…The upbeat score is triumphant enough to inspire more than just polite applause from the audience, whose enthusiastic whoops and cheers spilt over into vociferous appreciation…With dialogue as sharp and contemporary as the dance moves, I left the theatre not only with ringing ears and damp eyes, but also a notebook full of witty one-liners."
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The Root
December 11th, 2015

"The minimalist effect was meant to make the new version much more character driven, and the cast members of this new production rise to the occasion...The magic of this production is that the story, though set eight decades ago, feels so current...The work onstage by Erivo, Hudson, Brooks and their co-stars enlarges the power of this story."
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Our Ladies and Gentle Men
December 13th, 2015

"The minimalist effect was meant to make the new version much more character driven, and the cast members of this new production rise to the occasion…The magic of this production is that the story, though set eight decades ago, feels so current...It is the best explanation for why the story has been revisited so often, and why it continues to resonate."
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ThisbroadSway
November 16th, 2015

"If you want to feel the earth move with the most powerful voices on Broadway, then 'The Color Purple' is where you need to be...This is an astonishingly beautiful production under the direction of John Doyle...The score penetrates your soul as it is delivered by the bigger-than-life voices of Erivo, Hudson, Kalukango and the tremendous voices of the rest of this stellar cast."
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The Guardian (UK)
July 16th, 2013
For a previous production

"This musical version of Alice Walker's 1982 novel was greeted with roars of foot-stamping approval. But, while I shared the delight in the skill of the production and performance, I also feel that the shows sanitises – and sentimentalises – Walker's original story...I can't fault the presentation; it's just that the musical too palpably presses all the right emotional buttons."
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The London Evening Standard
September 3rd, 2013
For a previous production

"The over-simplification made the self-empowerment appear reduced and the piece stubbornly refuses to coalesce into a meaningful, heft-packed whole...Time passes unspecifically and everyone drifts in and out of relationships. Perversely, the show requires stronger anchors than this in order to fly...It’s perfectly fine, but my feet remained unstamped."
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Time Out London
July 16th, 2013
For a previous production

"Although there’s certainly the opportunity here, Marsha Norman’s script isn’t sentimental. There’s a lot packed in, and not much space left for detailed character development, which means it occasionally feels a smidgen lightweight. But the character that matters, Celie, is sharply written and her transformation from underdog to stable, strong-willed woman is subtle and convincing...An ultimately uplifting and heart-capturing evening."
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The Telegraph (UK)
July 16th, 2013
For a previous production

"I must admit to finding the show’s emotional incontinence and artfully calibrated mixture of misery and uplift unappealing but if you like this kind of thing there is no doubt that John Doyle’s production is a fine one...The show hurtles along with strong, vivid performances. The musical numbers range from blues and gospel to raucous R&B and are thrillingly delivered by the cast. "
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The Independent (UK)
July 16th, 2013
For a previous production

"It might be the uneven pacing or it could be that everyone is just too damn happy in the face of tragedy, but it’s often hard to feel truly moved by these characters...The sprawling narrative is hard to fit in a musical mould, so characters lose nuance and some intimate moments are played to the front...The combined effect is that we’re missing the details...The lightening up of the original story doesn’t always sit well."
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