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The Color Purple: The Musical About Love - Lexington Opera House

Based on Alice Walker's epistolary novel, the musical production of The Color Purple takes the heart and struggle to explode its essence in song. And rather cheekily at that. What is a rather depressing story keeps all that beat down and shines and shines on the humour and joy that absolutely lives within.

Rain is as it always does on our take to the city. Bucketing strong on our way toward the carpark just a snap of the neck from the Lexington Opera House. Save for a few under the bracket of 30, the rest of the audience see a decade above, the long set in years.

One of Celie's letters to God holds the curtain down as the pit orchestra plays on a Southern beat. Raise of the curtain times in with sounds of Celie and her sister Nettie (Traci Allen) hand clapping to the tune of "Huckleberry Pie," setting the tone of a playful atmosphere, belying the emotional erosion that follows Celie in her strife of a life.

Dayna Jarae Dantzler beautifully embodies the struggle and bleeding, though long in waiting and realisation, optimism of Celie. Carrying the entire show, she wears well the face of a hard-earned life. Edward C. Smith as Mister delivers a mean presence in the first act, a well reflected turn in the second.

The ensemble field hands working for Mister set the howls and cat-calls fluttering from the balcony with their gyrating swing and groove in the "Big Dog" number. One audience member sounding as if she was having a heart attack from all the man-meat on display, glistening under the stage lights.

Popping up every now and then, the Church Ladies cast aspersions set to a funny tone. Disproving and shocked aghast keeping the toes on edge and the gossiping aplenty.

The real pair that steals the sideshow is Lee Edward Colston II and Pam Trotter as Harpo and Sophia respectively. Their relationship, and the performance therein, nails the comedy and the light. "Any Little Thing" in the second act setting itself to rival the field men and their hoe and rake dancing of the earlier break. Trotter earlier setting the air of her character in a very proud and loud "Hell No!"

A third of the actors sport some dot on their foreheads. Like the knot of a hairnet, it's probably a microphone. Where others would have it to the side of their faces, that one dot on the face also looks like the run of mascara or the bleed of a widow's peak. Distracting at least.

Set design is great. The ease and flow of the props and settings as they glide right into the scene and back out again, not a step is missed. Feels like a viewscope, watching as the world builds itself around you and takes you down someone's life. Score is a well done mix of swing, jazz, gospel, blues, ragtime and African beats.

Dantzler delivers Celie's defiant, "I'm Here," in no other way but to render a twitching of the lower jaw. The lead into the underscore of the song is powerful, delightful, and soulfully rousing. Wonderfully capturing the whole of the story.

If you're not blinking the hummingbird to stifle the blindness of tears as your ribcage feels the joy and exuberance, you're dead inside. My wife, Misty, holds them back, shorting out the tear ducts in a race between who cries first. Linger sadness with a smile.

Of the matinee performance on Saturday, 11 September 2010 at the Lexington Opera House. The performance runs a breezy chunk of three hours with a 15 minute intermission.

Ethan Switch

Reviewed on Wednesday, 15 September 2010

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