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“A powerhouse of emotions that showcases the unbreakable bond of family and friendship”. The Color Purple returned to the stage this week at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Based on Alice Walker’s coming-of-age 1982 novel and 1985 movie adaptation, The Color Purple first opened on Broadway back in 2005 and received an incredible 11 Tony Award nominations. The heart-wrenching story was inspired by the life of Walker’s grandmother and centres on the life-long struggles of Miss Celie. As a young black girl living in the deep south during the early 1900s, she is faced with intolerable accounts of abuse, sexism, racism and the inability to love herself.

From the offset, a young Miss Celie is beset by incest, an abusive husband and separation from her sister Nettie, though never quite loses hope. Her steadfast optimism really does bring a tear to the eye and through meeting two strong characters, Celie is introduced to love and unwavering strength from singer, Shug Avery and her forceful and indestructible Sister-In-Law, Sofia. These newfound aids are resonated perfectly throughout the show with musical numbers such as Hell No, Sofia’s powerful account to Celie on how to think of yourself and say no to others.

(L-R) Karen Mavundukure (Doris), Esme Laudat (Jarene) and Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah (Darlene). Photography by Manuel Harlan.

The shows emotionally-loaded ballads grasp your heartstrings and refuse to let go yet, and despite the difficult subject of the production, a good deal of humour is assured from Sofia and comical church goers, capturing that hearty southern charm.

The entire production is bought together with Celie belting out I’m here, a stunning validation of her standing up to all her doubters and those who hurt her, stating that she’s good enough and she’s here to shine. The show concludes with a swarming account of reunion and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The Color Purple carries the strong message through and through that the power of hope and determination will see you through.

Bree Smith (Shug Avery – centre) and the cast of The Color Purple. Photography by Manuel Harlan

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