The Color Purple musical review

Fantasia Barrino in The Color Purple

I know The Color Purple is meant to liberate Black women, but I’ve always loved it. I’ve read the book by Alice Walker multiple times, I’ve seen the original movie multiple times. What I had not done was see the Broadway musical version of the story or learn the music from that show. This film fills in that gap.

The Color Purple, the musical, as director Blitz Bazawule chose to put it on the screen, has the feel of a Broadway musical. The sets, the transitions, the way the songs are blocked, the dance numbers – it all feels like seeing it on a big stage. I love a musical, and this is a good one.

It’s beautiful. Every thing about it was carefully chosen to be gorgeous to look at. The colors, the costumes, the sets, all are beautiful.

Taraji P. Henson in The Color Purple
Taraji P. Henson delivers a bawdy blues number as Shug Avery

The main characters are Celie (Fantasia Barrino), Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson), Sofia (Danielle Brooks), Mister (Colman Domingo), and Harpo (Corey Hawkins). All of them are musical talents, but the film also used musical legends like Halle Bailey, Ciara, H.E.R., Jon Batiste, and Phylicia Pearl Mpasi in smaller parts.

Taraji P. Henson and Fantasia Barrino in The Color Purple
Falling in love

The love between Celie and Shug was clear here, with a kissing scene and them sharing a bed. It’s a little more open than the original movie, but not much. When Shug takes Celie away from Mister and Celie delivers the famous line, “I may be black. I may be poor. I may even be ugly. But I’m here!” it resonates with the same strength it had when Whoopi Goldberg did it. (Goldberg appeared in this film for a few seconds as a midwife.)

Danielle Brooks in The Color Purple
Don’t mess with Sophia

Sophia’s part was reduced a bit, but the essence of it remained. Danielle Brooks is up for awards for being a great “take no abuse” version of Sophia. She did a wonderful job with the part.

This story of love for family, liberation for women, and female empowerment never grows stale, never outdated. It’s as timeless as women and men, as the downtrodden, and the spiritual. It was a work of genius by Alice Walker. Every version of it produced since its publication has honored that genius, as this musical does. Even if you aren’t a lifetime fan of The Color Purple, it’s a great watch.

Poster for The Color Purple feature Taraji P. Henson, Fantasia Barrino, and Danielle Brooks

In case you missed it in theaters, you can see it now on Max.

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