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Color Purple [Original Broadway Cast Recording]

The Color Purple [Original Broadway Cast Recording]

5.0 4
by LaChanze
Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winner The Color Purple -- transformed into a film classic by Steven Spielberg -- arrived on Broadway in 2005, in the able hands of collaborating composers Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, with a libretto written by Marsha Norman. At the heart of the musical is LaChanze, whose pliant yet powerful voice allows her to


Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winner The Color Purple -- transformed into a film classic by Steven Spielberg -- arrived on Broadway in 2005, in the able hands of collaborating composers Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, with a libretto written by Marsha Norman. At the heart of the musical is LaChanze, whose pliant yet powerful voice allows her to take full ownership of the Celie character that was unforgettably portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg in the film version. As the story covers a 40-year arc, from 1909 to 1949, the music effectively incorporates a variety of genres, such as revival-flavored swing on "Miss Celie's Pants," rafter-shaking gospel on "Mysterious Ways," African rhythms on the percolating "African Homeland," and stride-piano-driven blues on "Push Da Button," brassily delivered by Elisabeth Withers-Mendes as Shug Avery. She and LaChanze come together for the musical's centerpiece, "What About Love?," a showstopping ballad framed by strings and driven by the mutual love the characters declare in this number. (A separate version of the song that doesn't appear on the original cast album was also recorded with Patti LaBelle and Jill Scott.) The spoken dialogue sprinkled throughout the disc occasionally slows the pace, but the recasting of this redemptive story as a musical is a feat befitting Walker's original masterpiece.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
The stage musical adaptation of Alice Walker's 1982 novel The Color Purple (also based on the 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg), with a libretto by Marsha Norman and songs by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, opened on Broadway on December 1, 2005, and quickly turned into one of the season's major hits. At first blush, Walker's epic story of the travails of a poor African-American woman in rural Georgia during the first half of the 20th century, with its elements of rape, incest, and domestic violence, might seem an unlikely subject for musical theater, but the form has supported equally difficult projects successfully (Les Misérables wasn't exactly musical comedy), and one might as easily say that The Color Purple is an inspiring tale of women's resilience, camaraderie, and empowerment. It is certainly dramatic, which makes it a good stage vehicle, and the setting allows the songwriters obvious avenues to pursue. Not surprisingly, the score heavily employs gospel forms, beginning with "Mysterious Ways," an early song that easily could be heard in a church any Sunday. The character of the singer and prostitute Shug Avery (Elisabeth Withers-Mendes) gives the songwriters the opportunity to write blues material, although, in fact, blues elements appear prominently in the music throughout. The only oddity in the score is the songwriters' determination to mix those styles with more traditional show music, if one can by now refer to the sort of adult contemporary ballad material that began to be heard on Broadway in the 1980s as traditional. Whenever the show takes a turn toward the sincere and heroic (which is to say, whenever one or more of the several saintly female characters is moved to express her feelings), the music swells, the Southern accents fall away, the grammar noticeably improves, and out comes something that sounds like the light-FM/TV commercial/American Idol nexus of overwrought yet bland pop music meant to draw tears or sell French fries, as the case may be. "Somebody Gonna Love You," "Too Beautiful for Words," "What About Love," "The Color Purple" -- in this score, the listener is never far away from one of these numbers, and mixed in with the blues and other material expressed in heavy vernacular speech, the effect is disconcerting, as if a radio signal kept switching back and forth from one kind of station to another. LaChanze, in the starring role of Celie, displays versatility in adapting to the various musical styles, and Withers-Mendes, Felicia P. Fields (as Sofia), and Renée Elise Goldsberry (as Nettie, in an isolated African segment, "African Homeland") all have showcase parts. But the music they have to work with is more than just highly varied; it's highly inconsistent in both style and quality.

Product Details

Release Date:
Angel Records

Related Subjects


Album Credits

Performance Credits

LaChanze   Primary Artist,Vocals
Steve Bargonetti   Guitar
Kamau Adilifu   Trumpet
Martin Agee   Violin
Shelton Becton   Keyboards
Jay Brandford   Woodwind
Ben Brown   Bass
Barry Danielian   Trumpet
Larry Farrell   Trombone
Lawrence Feldman   Woodwind
Joseph Joubert   Keyboards
Eugene J. Moye   Cello
Brian O'Flaherty   Trumpet
Clay Ruede   Cello
Marilyn Reynolds   Violin
Scott   Woodwind
Laura Seaton   Violin
Linda Twine   Conductor
Buddy Williams   Percussion,Drums
Mineko Yajima   Violin
Cenovia Cummins   Violin
Richard Brice   Viola
Christoph Franzgrote   Violin
Debra Shufelt   Viola
Paul Woodiel   Violin
Maura Giannini   Violin
Belinda Whitney   Violin
Sylvia Davanzo   Violin
Doug Eskew   Vocals
Jason Jackson   Trombone
Carol Dennis   Vocals
Damien Bassman   Percussion,Drums
David Creswell   Viola
Felicia P. Fields   Vocals
Renée Elise Goldsberry   Vocals
Barry Danelian   Trumpet
Maia Nkenge Wilson   Vocals
Krisha Marcano   Vocals
Nathaniel Stampley   Vocals
Brian O'Flaherty   Trumpet
Virginia Ann Woodruff   Vocals
Color Purple Cast Ensemble   Choir, Chorus
Zipporah G. Gatling   Vocals
Leon G. Thomas   Vocals
Chantylla Johnson   Vocals
Maia Nkenge Wilson   Vocals
Benjamin Franklin Brown   Bass
Elisabeth Withers-Mendes   Vocals
Eugene Moye   Cello
Sylvia D'Avanzo   Violin
Kingsley Leggs   Vocals
LaChanze   Vocals
Kimberly Ann Harris   Vocals
Jo Montgomery   Vocals
Brandon Victor Dixon   Vocals
Renee Goldsberry   Vocals

Technical Credits

Brenda Russell   Composer,Lyricist
Stephen Bray   Composer,Lyricist
Frank Filipetti   Engineer
Jay David Saks   Producer,Audio Production
Scott Sanders   Executive Producer
Daryl Waters   Rehearsal Accompanist
Allee Willis   Composer,Lyricist
Bill Rosenfield   Executive Producer
Angie Teo   Pro-Tools
Marsha Norman   Book
Gordon H. Jee   Package Art Direction
Jason Shturtz   Pro-Tools
Peter Sylvada   Cover Illustration

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The Color Purple [Original Broadway Cast Recording] 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bravo for making the best cast recording, in my opinion, of the season. The singing is wonderful. The stand out performer of the reocording is LaChanze. She has a wonderful voice. Her "I'm Here" is beautiful. So, once again, bravo, cast of The Color Puple (and orchestra.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
A amazing play that will keep you shocked
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most powerful soundtracks I have ever heard. I saw the show in Chicago this past summer (2007), and was blown away. Unfamiliar with the show and the story, I didn't know what to expect. I was more than satisfied. This music is touching and emotional. Even listenting to the CD often moves me to tears.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago