The Laboratory Theater of Florida will present the Southwest Florida premiere of The Color Purple Sept. 3 through Oct. 2, with half-price preview nights on Sept. 1 and 2.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Alice Walker and adapted for the stage as a musical by Marsha Norman, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, The Color Purple is an inspirational story of strength, hope, and determination. It is the tale of African-American women finding their independence in the first half of the 20th century. The songs are a powerful fusion of ragtime, jazz, gospel, and blues that will transport the audience to journey alongside Celie and Nettie’s heart-touching story of deliverance.
Produced by artistic director Annette Trossbach and directed by Sonya McCarter, the team also features music direction by W. Earl Sparrow, and choreography by Bianca Russell.
The cast features Ruthgena Augustin (Celie), Julissa Jean-Bart (Nettie), Cantrella Canady (Sofia), Cadrick Smith (Harpo), Hoyt Goodine (Grady), Robert Barner (Mister), Edward Kelly (Preacher), David Anderson (Pa, Buster), Kim Hardin (Shug), Jade Green (Squeak, Jarene), Tijuanna Clemons (Doris, ensemble), Monicke Clark (Darlene, ensemble), and Faye Barrett (Jarene, ensemble).
McCarter says, “What I love about this story is that it doesn’t shy away from revealing the oppressions of the past and unfortunately the present: racism, sexism, and intolerance. But that’s not all I love. I love that it reveals the resilience of a people who at times have been broken but never bowed; I love its universality and that its a story of the human condition: we all crave love, respect, empathy, and understanding; we all experience times of disappointment, heartache and betrayal; I love that it’s a story of spirituality, self-discover, and triumph.”
Trossbach adds, “Lab Theater proudly presents this numinous theatrical experience that has both entertained and divided audiences for many years. The story remains banned across communities in the United States for its portrayal of African-American men and of a same-sex relationship. Censorship of art remains a controversial topic in Southwest Florida and across this country. Telling diverse stories is central to the mission of many theaters – we understand that history is written by those in power. Attempts to broaden the narrative are often removed from public view through various means of censorship. The power of The Color Purple compels that it be told. And that other stories of the diverse fabric of American life be told. All of our stories are worthy of telling and celebrating.”
Performance dates are Sept. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30 and Oct. 1, 2 at 8 p.m.; with matinees on Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26 at 2 p.m.
A post-performance talkback featuring the creative team will be held on Sept. 5.
Tickets are $37 each or $15 for students with valid student IDs. There are two half-priced previews on Sept. 1 and 2, and there is a new Thursday night special ticket price of $30 each for adult. Seating is socially distant and limited for safety. Masks are required to be worn when inside the theater.
For tickets, call the box office at 239-218-0481 or online at www.laboratorytheaterflorida.com.
The theater is located at 1634 Woodford Ave. in the Fort Myers River District.