By Cheryl Brown –
Color Purple saw sellout crowds at its first appearance east of Los Angeles at the Riverside Fox Theatre. Saturday night there were no more seats. Many attending from the community expressed joy with the fact that it was local and most reported they had never seen a show like that outside of New York or Los Angeles.
Color Purple originally written by Alice Walker, was a hit. Pam Trotter, whom played Sofia said the play has a new director and there are twists on it that slightly changed what has been seen before. The changes were noticed; Jonathan Bufong, of San Bernardino said “I loved the play and I have seen it before but this one was different. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it was different.” Of the young adults in his group they all seemed to enjoy the evening out.
Trotter said she used to practice the lines of the play with her friends for fun and it paid off, she was awesome. The entire cast was excellent, professional and kept you wondering what is next, even if you had seen the play before. Verna Clayvon said a night out so close to home was a lifesaver for her. “I was so happy to be in the beautiful space (Fox),” she said. She too joined the chorus of others who were chatting away as they left the theatre.
“I attended the Saturday matinee,” said Woodie Rucker Hughes, a Riverside resident and President of the Southern California Conference of the NAACP as well as the Riverside Branch. “As I sat in the beautiful theatre, watching the magnificent well done play, I thought, I’m in River City!!!. If you missed it you missed it,” she exclaimed.
The voices were melodic. Celie, played by Dayna Jarae Dantzler had a strong mellow voice, she carried the show along with Trotter and Taprena Augustine, who played the role of Shug Avery, and when she came to town she changed everything.
Augustine was another hit of the show. Allison Semmes was just right for the role of Squeak. The top of the cast was closed out by Edward Smith as Mister, and he was a convincing bad guy who redeemed himself when he lost all that he had. And rounding out the stars was Lee Edward Colston II playing Harpo. Both men showed contradictions, one trying to do everything to please his wife the other doing everything to hold his wife down. This review wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to the church ladies and the rest of the ensemble cast.
The dancers were top notch. They did more dancing than I remember in other Color Purple presentations. On a scale of 1-5 I give it a The Color Purple at the Fox Theater a 5.