Sunday, January 28, 2007

You told Harpo to beat me?!

I saw the Broadway musical The Color Purple back when it was in previews (in November 2005), and the best thing about it was the cast. The show has an entirely nonwhite cast (or almost entirely, anyway -- if you can remember any white characters, let me know), and since great roles for black performers are still pretty rare on the Great White Way, the casting company (Bernard Telsey Casting, for the record) had an opportunity to bring a lot of new talent to Broadway. To their great credit, they took all the time they needed and looked outside the New York pool where necessary, and the result was a stage full of overwhelmingly talented performers, many making their Broadway debut and all singing, dancing and acting their hearts out. The show is fair-to-middling, but the energy coming from the stage (and, consequently, from the audience) made it a very positive experience for me.

The most exciting Broadway debut I witnessed was that of Felicia P. Fields, who played Sofia (the Oprah role, for those who've seen the movie). I walked out of there saying, If she doesn't win the Tony this year, there is no justice in the world. Well, she didn't win the Tony, and I admit I did not see, and still have not seen, The Drowsy Chaperone, so it is possible, just possible, that Beth Leavel deserved it more. But I still think Felicia was robbed. In any case, because of the way the show is written, Felicia is not only permitted but actually required to upstage the nominal "star" at every opportunity, so I suppose that has been some consolation. However, I am sad to read that she is leaving the show as of today. The good news is, she is staying in the role, so if you catch The Color Purple on tour, you have at least one thing to look forward to.

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