BWW Reviews: Circle Players and TSU Theatre’s THE COLOR PURPLE Inspires and Enthralls

With a trio of outstanding performances from its three leading ladies, Circle Players’ production of The Color Purple is a prime example of the heights community theater can achieve through an artful blending of ambition, creativity and strong casting choices. Presented in collaboration with Tennessee State University’s theatre program, the musical retains all the heartfelt emotion, the enduring beauty and the constant reminder that the heart is indeed larger than the world in which it exists that we first experienced in Alice Walker’s remarkable novel, then later in Stephen Spielberg’s deeply affecting film adaptation.

Under the clear and focused direction of Tim Larson and Clay Hillwig, who heretofore separately have provided Nashville audiences with a number of impressive theatrical adventures, this evocation of The Color Purple is made all the more appealing by its trio of leading ladies—LaToya Gardner as Celie, J. Karen Thomas as Shug Avery and Cristina Fentress as Sofia—each of whom deliver terrific performances that are made all the more compelling and relevant when compared to the other actresses who have come before them to bring these beloved characters to life.

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The Color Purple. Based upon the novel by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment Motion Picture. Book by Marsha Norman. Music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Wills and Stephen Bray. Directed by Clay Hillwig and Tim Larson. Music direction by Eddie Charlton. Choreography by Peter Fields. Presented by Circle Players and Tennessee State University’s Theatre Program. At TSU’s Performing Arts Center’s Cox-Lewis Theater, Nashville. Through November 4. For details, go to For reservations, call  (615) 332-7529.


Meet the Cast


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