Tag Archives: Cynthia Erivo

The Color Purple – Jacobs Theatre, Broadway -25th June 2016

12 Jul

I remember watching the very first preview of The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I remember being excited to see the first public performance of what promised to be a great production. And I remember leaving the theatre slightly underwhelmed. I did not dislike the show back then and I was impressed by Cynthia Erivo’s portrayal of Celie. But I wasn’t amazed by the production either. I figured it just was not my kind of musical and decided I had seen it once now and that would be enough.


When the production transferred to Broadway I had no intention of watching it. And I kept it at that until that day they announced Jennifer Hudson’s replacement as Shug Avery: Heather Headley. There are a few performers who will make me watch literally anything. Heather is one of them.

And so I found myself in the orchestra (= stalls, for those of you not familiar with Broadway theatre) to see a show I was sure I would find ok but not great. Then the show started and my theatrical heart exploded.


There was Cynthia Erivo literally laying her soul out for everyone to see. Her Celie is vulnerable but strong, she is fearless and determined – it is impossible to not love her.

Danielle Brooks as Sofia made me laugh and cry – a powerful force on stage.


And then there was Heather Headley, my reason to revisit the show and the one person I had the highest expectations for. If you are waiting for me to say I was underwhelmed you will be disappointed. Heather Headley’s Shug Avery is sublime. With a voice smooth as velvet Heather commands the stage. She’s feisty and funny and strong and sexy – she just IS Shug Avery.

It’s impossible to find a weak link in the cast. From Isaiah Johnson’s Mister to Kyle Scatliffe’s Harpo, Joaquina Kalukango’s Nettie and everyone in the Ensemble this is pure class on stage.


I went into this show expecting to love Heather Headley’s performance. I walked out of the theatre having my faith in musical theatre restored. As long as productions like this exist musical theatre is alive. The Color Purple made my heart sing and I am grateful Heather Headley joined this production – not just because she was sensational but also because without her I would never have made the journey to watch this show. And my soul needed a show like The Color Purple – in fact I think every soul can do with a show like this now and then.

The Color Purple is on at the Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. For more info and to book tickets please visit: http://www.colorpurple.com

I can’t sing at the London Palladium

27 Mar

I admit I wasn’t the least bit excited the first time I heard there was going to be a musical based on the popular casting show The X Factor. The thing is, casting shows really don’t interest me. I have never watched any of them and I don’t plan to give them any attention in the future. That and the fact I am not British probably doesn’t make me the target audience for I can’t sing which has just opened at the London Palladium. However, the cast alone meant I simply had to go and see it.

I can’t sing tells the story of Chenice, a poor girl living in a caravan beneath a motorway who is persuaded by plumber max to audition for The X Factor. She gets in, her and Max both become finalists and it seems Chenice’s dream is coming true.


There is no denying that the show has its flaws. The stereotyped jokes get a bit too much with time and mocking every casting show cliché imaginable alone doesn’t make a show funny or good. The story of I can’t sing is paper-thin and I won’t even start with the ending which left me completely stunned (in a “What the…?!” kind of way). Plus I found the Hunchback and his “back story” (get the joke??) nothing but embarrassing even though I do get the idea behind it.
But despite that I laughed a lot and I left the theatre with a smile on my face.

The sets are impressive and well designed, the show has a great original score and the costumes range from lovely to completely outrageous – in a good way. It is obvious that a lot of money had been spent on the outer appearance of I can’t sing. This show definitely puts form over content. And that’s OK because I can’t sing doesn’t pretend to be anything but a silly night out. It doesn’t want to be Shakespeare. It simply wants the audience to sit down and laugh at funny characters and silly jokes and enjoy catchy songs. And for me it succeeds in doing so with few exceptions.


Simon Lipkin is wonderfully witty as Barlow (the dog) and Simon Bailey’s Liam O’Deary is quite simply hilarious. Then there is Cynthia Erivo who shines as Chenice and once again proves that she is one of the rising stars in London’s West End. Nigel Harman’s comic timing as Simon is spot on – I just wish his appearances were a little more balanced (two minor scenes in act one, almost never off stage in act 2). And despite having no idea who they were based on (this happens when you are a non X Factor watching German) I enjoyed Victoria Elliott’s Jordy and Ashley Knight’s Louis. Alan Morrissey does a great job as plumber / singer / songwriter Max and I have to give a special mention to Joseph Prouse whose Undertaker really made me chuckle.

I can’t sing is definitely a Marmite show. It is full of very silly jokes, stereotypes and some quite offensive clichés and it doesn’t really teach us anything beside the fact that casting shows are a platform for vanity and are lead by internal politics. So don’t watch this show expecting a clever and well-developed story and complex characters or you will most likely be disappointed. I can’t sing offers light entertainment and the opportunity to just stop thinking for 2 hours. And in our busy and often rather unfunny world maybe that is just what we need.

For more info go to http://www.icantsingthemusical.com, follow @icantsingUK on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page.

The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory – 5th July 2013

10 Jul

The Color Purple, a musical based on Alice Walker’s novel, premiered in Atlanta in 2004. Although a huge success on Broadway from 2005 to 2008 the show has never been staged in Europe before.
The show tells the story of Celie, a coloured girl living in Georgia at the beginning of the 20th Century. We follow Celie’s life with all its ups and downs and get to know the people she meets along the way. For a full synopsis I recommend taking a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Color_Purple_(musical).


I knew little about the musical prior to watching the show but like many others I had watched the movie so I was familiar with the story. And it is by all means not an easy story to stomach. Celie is an abused black girl, a victim. She suffers abuse from her father and later from her husband to which she offers herself to marriage to save her sister Nettie. Later on she is made believe that Nettie – the only person she loves – is dead. It is only when nightclub singer Shug arrives that Celie begins to see a brighter side of life.

The score is a mix of blues, gospel, jazz and swing and is wonderful delivered by the stellar cast of this production. Cynthia Erivo shines as Celie. She is without a doubt the star of this show and her heartbreaking rendition of “I’m here” received a well deserved standing ovation mid show at the performance I attended. Cynthia’s Celie grows from a little abused girl into a strong, independent woman who still sees the positive sides of life despite having suffered physical and emotional pain from an early age on.


Cynthia Erivo

Nicola Huges plays Shug with a fiery passion. Her voice is rich and powerful and she captures the character perfectly. Adebayo Bolaji is Harpo, the son of Celie’s husband. He does a good job but doesn’t really manage to stand out amongst the powerful performances of Cynthia and Nicola. Abiona Omonua’s Nettie is sweet and likeable.

I’m always happy to watch new musicals and this is without a doubt a great show. I can’t really fault it although I can imagine it might be a bit hard to follow the different pieces of storyline that seem a bit cramped together – but then telling the story of several people over a time span of  about 40 years in under 3 hours is obviously not an easy task. However, personally I have to say that I can’t really bring myself to love this show. I can’t connect with the characters and therefore I’m not actually interested in their stories. The music is fitting for this show but nothing I enjoy listening to.


Nicola Huges

The Color Purple turns out to be a really well done show (the staging is simple but clever, the score suits the story, the cast is exceptional). A show that should be seen by any musical theatre fan. But also a show that is just not for me. But then we can’t all love every musical and I appreciate this production for being brave and passionate and showing once again that the Menier Chocolate Factory is London’s number one fringe venue with a sense for hit shows.

The Color Purple is running until 14th September 2013. I advise you to go and see this show – it is one of those pieces of theatre that might rip your heart into pieces (in a good way!). For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.menierchocolatefactory.com.