The Color Purple
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★ ★ ★ "The first made-in-Chicago production of Alice Walker's ‘The Color Purple' is a genuinely eye-popping achievement. Walter Stearns' production features a company of 16, which is about half the size of the 2005 Broadway original, but these actors are performing in a theater about a tenth of the size of the Cadillac Palace, where this title last played in Chicago (at much higher prices). It's hard to overstate the advantage of this intimacy for a piece that tells such a personal story. Stearns' version is by no means a feast of new ideas or notions of revisionist staging, although some of Brenda Didier's choreography is exceedingly fresh and accomplished. And there are moments when easier choices are made when greater depths of emotional complexity would be preferable. But this cast is exceptionally committed and musically adept — the ensemble singing, under musical director Eugene Dizon, is thrilling in this shared space, and when Stearns essentially plonks Trisha Jeffrey, the young Broadway actress playing Celie, in the middle of the stage, this emotive, honest young performer is able, it feels, to reach out over the first several rows of seats during the ballad ‘What About Love?'" –Chris Jones, [Read the full review](,0,6677217.column)