Anyway, I went to see The Color Purple at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday night. I wasn't really enthusiastic about it and had bought the ticket largely because I want to encourage them to keep putting on musicals. (Which doesn't work, alas. The only musicals next season are Mary Poppins and Young Frankenstein.)
I have several quibbles about the show. The R&B inflected music didn't do a lot for me, with the best song being the suggestive "Push Da Button." The show is a bit too long and the "African Homeland" number, in particular, could be trimmed, despite having the best choreography in the show. And there is a fundamental problem in the plot (a problem which is, apparently, direct from the novel, which I've never read). Namely, Albert's tranformation seems too abrupt and doesn't really make a lot of sense.
But, overall, I was pleasantly surprised, largely due to a couple of outstanding performances. Fantasia got a lot of attention because of her history on American Idol. It turns out not to just be a publicity stunt - she can sing and act! That's particularly notable since she played a lead character (Celie) who is on stage almost the entire time (and who ages 40 years during the course of the action). The real scene-stealer though was Felicia P. Fields as Sofia. Her comic timing was perfect and the audience was cheering every time she was on stage.
This isn't ever going to make a list of essential musicals, but it was definitely an enjoyable evening.