SCHENECTADY — The first North American tour and full casting of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “The Color Purple” will tech shows at Proctors Theatre from Saturday, Oct. 7 to Saturday, Oct. 14 before its official opening in Baltimore, Md.
Tickets for Proctors are available at the Box Office at Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady; by phone at (518) 346-6204 and online at proctors.org.
“I play the role of a black woman in a society that doesn’t accept black women as equals, and I live in a society where black women are not necessarily seen as equals,” said Carrie Compere, who plays the role of Sofia, a role portrayed by Oprah Winfrey in the 1985 film adaptation. “So, these two [fiction and reality] parallel perfectly.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker takes place in the 1920s in rural Georgia. A setting in time where segregation between blacks and whites was still prevalent. However, despite the passing of perceived thresholds, notably marked by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the voting in of a black president in Barack Obama in 2008, current events suggest Dr. Martin Luther King’s “dream” has yet to be fully realized.
“The lives of these characters, if I were to take my own community of people who I live with, who I breathe with now, and if I were to run them congruently, it would be the same,” said Compere.
The racial tensions of today’s society are polarized by events in Charlottesville, the Black Lives Matter movement, even the current kneeling by professional athletes during the National Anthem. Compere continues as she’s asked how she views today’s world through the lens of her role.
“The community of black people really had to fight for what they wanted in life, that they knew that they were even worthy enough to have certain things in life,” said Compere. And, I think we’re dealing with the same thing today.”
Though Walker’s story revolves around the individual stories of black women, Compere draws comparisons to all ethnicities. “It’s a story about human beings,” she said.
“The beauty of this play is, yes, we are a black company… but it is a story about human beings. Point blank. Period,” said Compere. “It is a story about human nature. It’s a story about the power of love and forgiveness. Regardless of where you come from, what your background is, what your culture is, what your skin color is, what your gender is. It doesn’t matter. Because at the end of this show, everybody is on their feet. Everybody has their hands raised. And, what ever expression joy and empowerment they are feeling, that is how they are expressing themselves. And it doesn’t matter what color they are.”
Cast members from the 2016 Broadway revival lead the touring company, including Adrianna Hicks (“Aladdin,” “Sister Act” – Germany) as Celie, Carla R. Stewart (“Ghost” – National Tour, “Rent” – Regional) as Shug Avery and Compere (“Holler If You Hear Me,” “Shrek the Musical” – National Tour).
For more information, visit ColorPurple.com
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.
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