Review: Rotorua Musical Theatre’s The Color Purple, an incredible roller coaster of emotions


Rotorua Musical Theater’s latest production is The Color Purple. Photo / Tegan Hignett

The purple color
Rotorua Musical Theater
Reviewed by Shauni James

The details
– What: Rotorua Musical Theater presents The Color Purple, The Musical
– When: October 6 –
– Where: Casablanca Theater

The Rotorua Musical Theater The purple color The production was a show full of emotions, tapping, beautiful harmonies, laughter and even a few tears.

The purple color is an inspiring family saga that tells the unforgettable story of a woman who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world.

This musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel highlights Celie, an oppressed young woman whose personal awakening over 40 years forms the arc of this story.

The evening of the show I attended, Evar Thomas played the role of Célie.

She did an amazing job taking the audience through the hardships, emotions, and triumphs of Celie’s story, all with incredible voice and character portrayal.

Evar Thomas as Celie is the color purple.  Photo / Tegan Hignett
Evar Thomas as Celie is the color purple. Photo / Tegan Hignett

Although his character isn’t the nicest of people, LeRoi Kippen had an outstanding performance as Mister, commanding the stage and showing incredible skill.

Another outstanding performance was Nanu as Sofia. She made audiences fall in love with her character and roots her throughout, with a number of “woohoos” from the audience.

There were many great moments of chemistry and collaboration between the actors in their roles, including Celie (Evar Thomas) and Nettie (Kahu Piripi) and Celie (Evar Thomas) and Shug (Te Awhina Kaiwai-Wanikau).

Nanu as Sofia and Frank Baker as Harpo also brought their chemistry back to the stage – something many had already seen in their dancing for this year’s Harcourts Dancing for Hospice.

It was great to see Frank back on stage and bring his comedic traits to the role.

Te Awhina Kaiwai-Wanikau playing Shug, Kahu Piripi as Nettie, and Te Ao Tahana-Prangnell as Squeak were all amazing in their performances, portraying different emotions superbly through their acting and singing.

The character trio of Doris (Bobby Mihi Howard), Jarene (Rewa Ututaonga), and Darlene (Vicki Inia) worked together beautifully, bringing spectacular vocals and harmonies as well as comedic moments that audiences enjoyed.

The set was fantastic, bringing even more talent, vibrancy and dimension to the stage.

The entire cast is a powerhouse with incredible talent, and there were a number of jaw-dropping vocal moments and harmonies that gave you goosebumps.

The music in this show takes you through the highs and lows of history and hits you with every emotion, featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues.

The show features an array of costumes and sets.  Photo / Tegan Hignett
The show features an array of costumes and sets. Photo / Tegan Hignett

The stage layout was unique and really helped bring an immersive experience, also helping the actors interact easily and often with the audience.

Also a huge accessory for Tina Lynn and the rest of the wardrobe crew – the costumes were gorgeous and beautifully detailed.

A big shout out and round of applause to all the cast and crew, and of course the creative team – director Ngahiriwa Rauhina, voice director Dr Dan Ieremia and choreographer Taiaroa Royal.

I’m sure they’re proud of the way The purple color came to life on stage. It was a spectacular and certainly unforgettable spectacle.


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