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'The Color Purple' at the Community Arts Center

A musical about love

January 22, 2012
By DAVID WHITMAN - Sun-Gazette Correspondent , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

"The Color Purple" is coming to the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The venerable 1982 book by author Alice Walker became an Oscar-winning movie featuring Whoopie Goldberg in 1986 and, more recently, was made into a popular touring musical production.

The much-loved, emotional story follows Celie, as she handles her husband's abuse and finds a new world through her sisters' letters.

"These characters go through a lot in the show - everything from homosexuality, being raped and beaten, having babies and by the end of the show you see the triumph of faith as well as the human spirit in the face of such adversity and hardships," said Kadaja One, who plays Church Lady Doris and Church Soloist in the production. "This character (Celie) is separated from his her sister, Nettie, but at the end of the show, they are reunited. As the story progresses, she is built up to be a strong, loving courageous woman shaped by the experiences from everything she's gone through."

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“The Color Purple” is coming to the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

In the touring production of the story, some key characters, including Celie and Sofia, are played by newly added actresses - Ashley Ware and Deidra Grace, respectively. They join current cast leads Taprena Augustine (Shug Avery), Edward C. Smith (Mister) and Dayna Marie Quincy (Nettie).

"We had to come together during our rehearsal period and really get the new people incorporated," One said. "They've done an extraordinary job of being prepared when they got to rehearsal. They are outstanding in their roles. I'm excited for people to see the show. These new performers - in key roles - bring a freshness [and] put a new twist on things as they put their interpretations of the character into the role. They bring their energy to the role."

After a brief hiatus from performances, the tour is just beginning again.

"Our first show is this Friday," One said . "This is my second season as a member of the cast. I started in 2010. I play Church Soloist and Church Lady Doris. It's a dual role. As Church Soloist, I pretty much open the show in a big church scene number, "Mysterious Ways." That number calls all of the cast members and it is also an audience participation number as well. I open the show with my song and basically that is setting the tone for the audience to experience a miraculous triumph of love, patience, endurance and just being able to overcome anything thrown your way."

During the tour, the performers and crew travel constantly, creating unique challenges that don't effect most theater productions.

"All together, out of the past 18 months, we've been on the road 12 of them," One said. "We've had a few breaks for personal holidays and a summer break. Traveling itself is a challenge. Sometimes, you have a lot of one nighters. So, you're on a bus or a plane, you get to the hotel for a few minutes, do the show and then, next morning, you're back on the road traveling to the next destination. We're singers and dancers, so it can be taxing on the voice and the body. Just being able to eat right and stay healthy - as well as hydrated - is important to make sure that we're sharp as we can possibly be. So, that when we open the show or move on the next city, we connect with the audience and be consistent in presenting the exact same level of quality show."

For more than three decades, Walker's story has reached millions of people and its poignancy - as well as message - remains timeless.

"People attending and watching the show can expect seeing an amazing story told not only with dialogue but also music and singing," One said. "It's a very dynamic experience. People can expect to have their life changed. I performed the show 338 times last season and to watch through the show, I was amazed and still learning lessons that are applicable to my life even still today. The story is so applicable to real life situations so that everyone who comes will be able to take some piece of the show and receive some healing for whatever they might be going through."

One wanted to make sure that theatergoers know that the play is "not just a musical, it's a musical about love."

"It's not just a story but a story that was written in a spirit of healing," she said. "Anybody that comes to see the show will definitely have an experience that will change their life in some kind of way. You will definitely be able to take something from it that you can apply to your everyday life."

Tickets may be bought at the Community Arts Center box office, by calling 326-2424 or visiting the CAC website at



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