“Wow,” “Holy Mackerel,” “Hallelujah” — many raves for the first Broadway revival of The Color Purple, with Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo and Danielle Brooks (from Orange is the New Black) making their Broadway debuts. Based on the Pulitzer-winning novel by Alice Walker, and the movie adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg, the musical uses jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues to chronicle 40 years in the life of Celie, who is sold into marriage for the price of a cow at the age of 14, and journeys over the years from despair to hope to joy.
Jonathan Mandell, DC Theatre Scene: Cynthia Erivo sings it in a crystal-clear voice that is capable of both exquisite nuance and shattering power. That’s a good description of her performance as a whole – one of three extraordinary Broadway debuts by strikingly talented women…Director John Doyle makes sure that our focus stays on Celie, by streamlining the production…The result somehow makes this entertainment feel closer to a spiritual experience
Ben Brantley, New York Times: Give thanks this morning, children of Broadway, and throw in a hearty hallelujah. “The Color Purple” has been born again, and its conversion is a glory to behold.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Wow, what a difference a more-focused production makes.
Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: The shift from “Who cares?” to “Holy mackerel!” is partly due to a canny staging that squarely puts the focus on the rich score
Jesse Oxfeld, Entertainment Weekly: In the British director John Doyle’s emotionally rich and visually striking new production of The Color Purple… there is an elegant staging and three gorgeous star performances. But the most inescapable thing about the musical is just how much horror is packed into its leading characters’ lives — and, eventually, just how much beauty.
Linda Winer, Newsday [In] director John Doyle’s passionate, scaled-down, streamlined, low-frills revival…Cynthia Erivo, who also played Celie in Doyle’s hit London reduction, exquisitely paces the understated character through 40 tumultuous years of male-dominated, post-slavery African-American culture.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: The ladies wear the pants in John Doyle’s ravishing revival of “The Color Purple.” Jennifer Hudson is radiant as the love machine Shug Avery. Danielle Brooks shakes the house as the earthy Sofia. And Cynthia Erivo, the tiny pint of dynamite who originated the role at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London, brings the audience roaring to its feet as Celie
Jesse Green, New York Magazine: If it remains, as Walker wrote it, a rebirth story as gratifying as it is unlikely, this production — one of the best revivals ever — proves that sometimes gratifying and unlikely are really the same thing.
Adam Feldman, Time Out NY: Seeing The Color Purple on Broadway, a decade after its premiere, is like meeting an old friend who has gotten her life together since the last time you saw her.