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Award-Winning ‘The Color Purple,’ Continues Through March 3 at Red Mountain Theater

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'The Color Purple,' which runs through Sunday, March 3 at Birmingham’s Red Mountain Theatre, will be highlighted with singing performances featuring notes of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues. (Mary Fehr Photo, Red Mountain Theatre)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | The Birmingham Times

Directing The Tony award-winning stage play “The Color Purple” is an honor for the multi-talented Monet who joins an elite company of few Black women who’ve had the opportunity to direct a musical of this magnitude.

The musical, which runs through Sunday, March 3 at Birmingham’s Red Mountain Theatre, will be highlighted with singing performances featuring notes of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues.

Theatergoers can save 25 percent on all price level tickets by using discount code: Times25, www.redmountaintheatre.org, 205-324-2424.

Monet told The Birmingham Times she does not take lightly the opportunity to direct this critically acclaimed play.

“Directing this production means a lot to me,” said Monet, a graduate of A.R.T/Harvard. “Not only is it so wonderful to be directing ‘The Color Purple’ in the South so close to the geographical areas that it is set in and references, but also to be able to do the show for a community that really understands these (characters) in a more intimate way. These characters are based on people that would resemble their grandmothers, their great grandmothers …”

The play is based on Alice-Walker’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book of the same name, which follows the life of lead character Celie – who rises from a dramatic childhood of abuse, oppression and trauma to become a strong and vibrant woman and community figure, complete with supporting female characters including Sofia, Squeak and Shug Avery.

Monet is not only working as director and choreographer for The Color Purple but she is also an actor and consultant who’s worked with distinguished playwrights, directors and organizations.

Her work spans theatre, film, commercials, music videos and live events and she’s served as a consultant for the likes of Black Thought (The Roots), John Leguizamo and she’s associate director of the highly anticipated Alicia Keys musical, Hell’s Kitchen that will be headed to Broadway spring of this year.

The diversity of work is common for those who lean toward a professional career in the arts, she said.

Monet said her greatest work right now is telling this story “through the lens of this community and this cast” and “watching the actors grow and explore these characters along the way and getting to watch them all come to life on stage.”

One of those actors is Birmingham-native Myiesha Duff, who cast as Celie in the musical.

“Having a director who identifies as Black and has lived, breathed, and been a part of our culture brings a relatability and understanding that is a breath of fresh air,” said Duff, who considers Red Mountain Theatre home.

This is Duff’s third time playing this role at RMT (she also performed it in 2012 and 2019).

“I am honored to bring Celie to life again on the stage,” said Duff. “Working with this group – from my castmates, directorial team, production team – has been a joy.”

Duff, a graduate of E.B. Erwin High School’s class of 2004, describes Celie as “a simple and complex character and I get to play the many nuances that make her a beloved character.”

And in addition to being a full-time wife, mom and actress, she’s also a children’s book author, educator and administrator.

Getting Into The Swing

Local entertainer Naomi Brown was on a cruise with her husband Ron and their children when she got the call.

“They told me that I’d missed the email, so they called me and told me I had the role as a swing actor for The Color Purple,” she said.

A month later in December, she was invited to be cast as a swing actress in the upcoming stage production.

While Brown is one of the background singers in the production she is also a swing actor which carries an “incredible responsibility” in a production, she said. Swing actors study multiple roles and must be ready to step in if one of the principal actors is unable to perform.

“This is my first experience doing the swing position (in The Color Purple),” she said. “I’m covering all ensemble (on-stage performers other than the main actors) and all the (lead) singing church ladies,” she said. “That’s a total of eight women.”

Brown said it is “definitely challenging” learning all the roles, but also the fact that the director of the play makes “consistent adjustments going on with different people (during rehearsal).”

Showtimes

Performances for The Color Purple will run through Sunday, March 3 and held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and will also feature Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Community Conversations will be held following each Thursday performance where members of the cast and crew will be available to talk about the show and what it means to host the musical in this community.

For more information on the stage play and actors, or to purchase tickets, visit here or call 205-324-2424.