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Rehearsals are underway at Curve for The Color Purple, the Broadway musical based on Alice Walker’s acclaimed novel and Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film.
We caught up with director Tinuke Craig to talk more about the production, its powerful music and the team behind the show.
How would you describe the story and Celie’s journey?
The Color Purple to me is the story of a young woman who, at the very early stages of life, has fundamental elements taken away from her – her innocence, love, autonomy, education, body. Over the course of 40 years we see how she tries to find them again or learn to accept life without them. I wrote about the novel for part of my dissertation so it’s a story I know very well.
You’ve brought together an amazing team, what do you think they’ll all bring?
One of the things I find really interesting about this production is that there’s quite a split between the creatives who have worked on musicals before and those who haven’t. Alex Parker our Musical Supervisor and Musical Director and Mark Smith our Choreographer obviously have lots of experience with musical theatre but then some of our team, myself included, come from a theatrical and traditional play background. This meeting of minds feels like an interesting challenge and a new, inventive way to stage the show – giving it a real depth of perspective from all sides.
Do you have a favourite song from The Color Purple?
They’re all brilliant songs, they really are. Everyone always says I’m Here – and rightly so – because it’s a glorious song but I’m going to go with Brown Betty, it’s got a really good groove to it. That and the reprise of The Color Purple which is truly joyful.
What elements are key for you to make this production really work?
I think it’s mostly about the story, everything is there already so we serve the story first and foremost. What’s important is that we don’t try to hide from the trauma of quite a violent and oppressive tale. It really centres around the idea of what happens when the entire world turns against you and you’re abused, abandoned and unwanted. The production shouldn’t shy away from the visceral elements of the story and you really need that arc and journey for the ending to work. The story is pain but that’s also what makes it work so well as a musical – the songs are powerful and upbeat but give an emotional release that feels crucial.
What do you think people who have only read the book or seen the film will think to this musical?
The book is very specific with the story told through letters and so as a two-hour stage version the journey needs to be communicated quite differently. The musical feels more alive and in present tense and whenever anything is put onto a stage it is elevated to an almost fantastical version. The musical is a kind of blown-up fantasia of the film plus live sing and live acting – which makes it pretty incredible!
Tickets for The Color Purple at Curve are on sale now, click here to book and find out more.