The Color Purple in Concert, Cadogan Hall

By guest critic Alistair Wilkinson

Thunderous applause from the audience welcomes the cast as they take their starting positions. It is evident that I am in the company of committed fans and, being a show that I have been enamoured of three times on Broadway, I was eagerly awaiting what was to come.

Tyrone Huntley as Harpo is the real star of the show. His entrance brings a needed energy shift after a weak start, and totally ignites the stage. The youthful passion he conveys shows a desire to always give his best performance. In years to come, Huntley will be one of those names up there with the musical theatre greats; his charisma and charm perfectly blend with his gorgeous tone and wide vocal range. It’s a shame that he is let down a bit by his co-star who seems to not have the sass required to play Sofia. Her lack of strength is disappointing and leads to an uninteresting performance.

Cavin Cornwall as Mister is stiff with a tendency to over-act. It is quite frankly a surprise from someone with such commendable credits. The same can be said for Hugh Maynard in the role of Pa/Grady. The Church Ladies played by Bernadette Bangura, Rochelle Jackman and KrishanaParker give strong vocals, comedy quips and their behaviour compliments one another well. However it does seem that they feel restricted being stuck behind their podiums, and because of this, they struggle to give their best performance.

The same can be said for all performers, and may be the reason for their tense postures throughout. The movement is too ambitious given the amount of space accessible, and Mykal Rand’s choreography is impractical. Everybody feels boxed in, and at the back of the stage, the ensemble is sloppy with their dancing.

Not all of the performers possess the vocal power needed to carry these songs through, and those that do, push themselves too hard, leaving them pitchy. The worst moments are when people attempt to out sing their fellow performer. Despite expert musical direction from James Taylor, the concert represents more of the colour beige; it doesn’t have the spirit or excitement to make a lasting impact, and it all results in a disappointing taste being left in the mouth.

The Color Purple in Concert runs through 21 May.

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