Thursday, November 10, 2005

The color of money

It didn't work for one one-name celebrity (Rosie) in her support of Boy George and "Taboo," but it might just work for another (Oprah).

"The Color Purple," a new musical based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning book by Alice Walker, started previews Nov. 1 at the Broadway Theatre in New York. It opens Dec. 1. On the marquee, it's "Oprah Winfrey Presents ..." -- her right as the sole presenting producer.

Reportedly, she's put $1 million into the show. Of course, she has some serious ties to the source material.

You may recall that Oprah made her movie splash in the 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg. She was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. (Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role.)

Although the plot, taken fairly closely from the book and the movie but with new songs, is a complicated tree of incest and abuse and racism, the preview audience on Nov. 3 gave it a standing ovation despite its harshness and degree of difficulty.

The feel-good ending had audience members sniffling for another five minutes.

The music is a blend of gospel, ragtime and other influences.

One of my favorite bits involves a trio of "church ladies" who provided a Greek chorus of tut-tutting, as well as plot commentary in song. Whenever they teetered on stage, they got a laugh.

Watch for the reviews after the official openings.

Until then, and perhaps after, Oprah's name can't possibly hurt ...

- Michael K.

No comments: