‘The Color Purple’ premieres at the Springer Opera House in Columbus

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 11:04 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As we mark Juneteenth this week, a special performance took place a the historic Springer Opera House in Columbus.

The musical The Color Purple, featuring an all-African American cast, runs through Sunday night.

The musical is Keith Patrick McCoy’s directorial debut as the new resident artist.

Based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel, The Color Purple follows the life and journey of Celie, an African American woman in the early to mid-20th century South.

The musical tells the story of Celie, who, by the age of 14, had one child with her father and was pregnant with another. The story continues as Celie struggles with the loss of having those children taken away and her decades-long search for her sister Nettie, the love of her life.

“The dialogue always stays the same, but it’s the interpretation that’s different,” explained McCoy.

For the artistic director, that interpretation is complex and simple.

“Even though the story is told through Celie’s eyes, she goes through things every human being goes through. Love, trust, empathy, forgiveness, healing and growing. Realizing that people change and people can change for the better, you’ve just got to believe in them.”

That always positive outlook is what McCoy hopes to bring to whatever project he tackles.

As the first African American resident artist of the 150-year-old Springer Opera House, McCoy says directing and choreographing this “all-Black” cast of The Color Purple during the week of Juneteenth is more than fitting.

Juneteenth is a celebration for African Americans. This show is a celebration of African American life and culture.

“I feel great about this production. I’ve worked here before, but I feel like as resident artist, this is my first production, and this is me creating my brand. And the brand is excellent.”

That excellence display is on full display as the cast of locals and out-of-towners bring The Color Purple to life.

Chelsea Cutwright from LaGrange plays the flamboyant yet troubled Suge Avery.

Though Shug is considered a “loose woman” by other characters, she ends up being a true friend to Celie.

Cutwright says there are lessons to learn from their relationship.

“I want them to take away that people can change, and they can grow.”

Change and growth are both underway at the Springer.

The pandemic really hurt the venue. Now, people are returning, and Artistic Director Paul Pierce says McCoy and productions like The Color Purple are helping to bring the community together.

“He’s made such a mark on our program. I just needed to have him here full-time to do his thing. And I really want to let him run artistically so this production of The Color Purple is his first big gesture in that regard.”

A big gesture it is, indeed. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg for McCoy, who plans to help bring many more productions like The Color Purple to the Springer.

You can catch The Color Purple tonight and tomorrow at the Springer at 7:30 p.m. The final performance is Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

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