I made a concerted effort not to have any Valentine’s Day plans. I wanted to truly embody the sad, lonely woman, sitting at home eating a tub of ice-cream and watching Notting Hill. There is such romance in single-life. Luckily for me my mom was having none of that. She surprised me and booked to see the highly anticipated The Colour Purple at the Joburg Theatre. I have been beyond excited to see this piece for a number of different reasons. Firstly, I read Alice Walkers, Pulitzer Prize winning novel during some extremely formative years and loved it. Secondly, I studied Drama at Wits University and I absolutely adore anything to do with the theatre and, thirdly, the lead actress, Didintle Khunou and I studied Drama together and there is nothing better than seeing someone you know succeed in their dreams.
This show has travelled the world, won numerous awards and landed smack-bang in our laps at the wonderful Joburg Theatre with a fully South African cast. I am beyond proud to report that the South African cast is WORLD-CLASS. From the choreography ( Oscar Buthelezi) and Set design ( Sarah Roberts) to the lightning design ( Mannie Manim) and Music ( Rowan Bakker) I cannot find a single fault with this production. A special shoutout has to go to Didintle Khunou. She brought such an authenticity and gentleness to Celie, a genuine spark. There was not a dry eye in they entire theatre when Didi was performing. I have the chills just sitting and thinking about her performance. I believe this was the moment a Musical theatre star was born.
It is really tough to separate certain actors from the rest because that is just how strong the ensemble was, though Aubrey Poo does deserve a special mention as he was able to bring some form of lovability to the awful character of Mister, he also nailed the Southern drawl perfectly! Then there was the most lovable character of all, Sophia played by the fabulous Neo Motaung. She brought a much-needed air of humour to the show. I cannot bring up ‘lovable’ without speaking of Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri’s beautiful take on Harpo. A character that you want to scoop up and put in your pocket- Mahaka-Phiri embodied Harpo rather seamlessly. Then there was the delicious Shug Avery, played by an equally delicious Lerato Mvelase. Her voice is velvet, her sex-appeal is universal. I can write about the actors for days yet let me stop and rather emphasise the fact that you need to go see it for yourself!
Living in a country like South Africa, there is such a rich history of women demonstrating immense strength and courage, with women of colour truly being the back-bone of our society yet never getting their due credit. This production is a powerful social reminder of the women we, as a society, tend to forget. A massive congratulations has to go to everyone involved in this impeccable production. I implore you to go and see it for yourself. The abiding universality of the characters and the story will resonate with you in the same way it has resonated with audiences around the world. It is on until March 4. Book now!