The Color Purple is based on the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the film by Steven Spielberg. It’s the unforgettable and inspiring story of a woman named Celie, who finds the strength to triumph over adversity, and discover her unique voice in the world.
The original Broadway musical opened on December 1, 2005, and was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The Color Purple: The Musical About Love will play the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for eight performances in June. Dayna Jarae Dantzler plays Celie in the national production.
Dantzler’s credits include Barter Theatre’s Little Shop of Horrors (Ronnette), Frankenstein (Servant), Theatreworks/Two Beans Productions’ James and the Giant Peach (national tour), and the Negro Ensemble Company’s Chronicles of Color (NYC tour). She speaks with Out & About Newspaper to discuss her challenging but rewarding role in The Color Purple.
What’s the best part about visiting Nashville?
I’m excited to go back. I loved it the first time. (Dantzler also starred in the April 2010 production of The Color Purple at TPAC.). To be honest, the cities really blend in, so it’s hard to remember the names of places. But I liked going down the (Broadway) strip and I went to the Parthenon. It was great.
What keeps this role new and fresh for you?
It just happens organically. It could be a line that sticks out differently or something that a partner actor decides to do differently. It’s all about bouncing off each other and give-and-take. It can depend on how i’m feeling that day and how I internally prepare.
What’s your favorite aspect of this character?
My favorite part of playing this character is that she gets to triumph and overcome. I’m able to live through that every night. It’s such a joyous pleasure that she comes into her own and shows her true voice. There’s such a sensitivity and spirit there; she has a heart of gold and she’s able to give without expecting anything in return. I’m still learning to do that in my life and I know a lot of people who are also learning to do that. There’s a quiet curiosity to her that’s so tender. It’s a challenge for me because I’m a pretty outgoing person, so I have to tap into that sensitive side.
How would you describe the experience of seeing this cultural landmark in the theater as compared to reading the book or seeing the movie?
The musical is closer to the book than the movie I would say. Most people identify The Color Purple with the movie. People are going to get into the characters with a little more depth. I believe that we’re able to explore the relationship between Celie and Shug a little more. People come up to me and say that they didn’t realize they were even an item, so it gets into those characters in depth. I feel blessed to be able to be a part of that and share their stories.
What’s a surprising part of being a traveling performer that others might not expect?
It’s a rigorous schedule. You have to take care of yourself. A lot of people believe that we just get on stage, and then go party and have a good old time. It’s really about conditioning and having a lot of discipline, and some get a bit of surprised about that. There’s a lot of preparation and rehearsals. Also, we have a close and tight-knit family (in the cast). That might surprise some people too.
What would be your sales pitch for those who considering seeing this production?
This is a show for theatergoers and non-theatergoers, for men, women, anyone. I have men who come to the theater and tell me ‘I don’t come to the theatre very often, but this show is incredible’. It makes men and women feel that they can conquer the world. This show is timeless. It’s not geared toward a certain demographic. It deals with the human spirit and it’s something everyone can relate to.
Ticket prices range from $25 to $70 and are available at the TPAC box office at 505 Deaderick Street (downtown) or the new Satellite box office in the Mall at Green Hills, located at the mall’s concierge desk, near J. Crew and Express. Order online by visiting www.tpac.org/colorpurple or by calling 615-782-4040.