Monday, October 02, 2023

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

It's difficult to decide where to begin discussing the wonders of Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. The incredibly funny, smart, musical writing; the extraordinary acting; the smooth, perfectly paced direction; the handsome, practical scenery and lighting; and the attractive, character-enhancing costumes all mesh into one brilliant unit. Discussing them individually feels inappropriate and reductive.

Leslie Odom, Jr.

The website describes the play as " the rousing, laugh-filled comedy by . . . Ossie Davis that tells the story of a Black preacher’s machinations to reclaim his inheritance and win back his church." True. But it's also a story of getting by, overcoming mistreatment, fighting for the truth (sometimes by lying), humanity, and love.

Kara Young

Starring Leslie Odom Jr. (remarkable), Vanessa Bell Calloway, Billy Eugene Jones, Noah Pyzik, Noah Robbins, Jay O. Sanders, Heather Alicia Simms, Bill Timoney, and Kara Young (a wonder). Directed by Kenny Leon. Set by Derek McLane. Costumes by Emilio Sosa. Lighting by Adam Honoré. Sound by Peter Fitzgerald. Hair, wig and makeup by J. Jared Janas. Fight direction by Thomas Schall. Original music b, Guy Davis. Executive producers, Maia Kayla Glasman and Brandon J. Schwartz; production stage manager, Kamra A. Jacobs.

The list of producers over the title suggests the need to reinforce the stage any time Purlie Victorious wins an award. For this show, it did indeed take a village: Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Leslie Odom, Jr., Louise Gund, Bob Boyett, Willette and Manny Klausner, Salman Moudhy Al-Rashin, Creative Partners Productions, Irene Gandy, Kayla Greenspan, Mark and David Golub Productions, Kenny Leon, John Gore Organization, Morwin Schmookler, Van Kaplan, Ken Greiner, Patrick W. Jones, Nicolette Robinson, National Black Theatre, Alan Alda, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Nnamdi Asomugha, Kerry Washington.

It's a funny, heart-warming (and occasionally heart-breaking), impressive evening in the theatre. A true delight.

Wendy Caster

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