An extraordinary show with a score featuring soul-stirring pop, blues, jazz and gospel music, “The Color Purple” follows the tough life of a girl named Celie, who discovers how to be strong, thanks to the women in her life. On Broadway “American Idol” winner, Fantasia had the lead role of Celie, who Whoopi Goldberg played in the acclaimed Steven Spielberg movie. Now L.A. audiences will get to see Fantasia at the Pantages Theatre February 10-28 in “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Color Purple.”
It’s “a musical about finding the love within you. The thing that makes you beautiful,” I was told by Felicia P. Fields, who plays the proud and strong-willed Sofia. That’s the role that put Oprah Winfrey in the spotlight in the Spielberg movie. Felicia has been with the show since its Broadway debut and was happy to talk about Oprah supporting the show.
Just like Oprah’s book club, if she recommends something, you know it’s going to be worthwhile. A lot of people have seen the show thanks to Oprah getting behind it as a producer, and sort of a guardian angel looking after the production. Felicia says, “I love that the power of Oprah is behind the show. It gets people’s attention.”
The powerful story of a woman’s triumph over adversity was told by Alice Walker in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and retold in the movie by Spielberg. And now, the live musical performance gives the story a whole new energy. But whether it’s the book or the movie or the musical, the story is about “learning to love yourself in order to realize the beauty that lies inside of you,” Felicia emphasizes. There are themes of inner-strength and discovering your unique voice. It’s all there and a great journey for theater-goers.
A Broadway veteran, Felicia says, “Great theater has the ability to change people’s lives during the two hours and fifteen minutes you have their attention. I believe you should come in the theater one way and leave totally transformed. Along with entertaining and enlightening, it can give you some direction if you don’t know which way to go.” That’s the power of “The Color Purple.”
A Valentine Treat from Hallmark, “Elevator Girl”
Looking for a Valentine’s Day treat on TV? Tune in to “Elevator Girl,” premiering Saturday, February 13 on the Hallmark Channel. The love story stars Lacey Chabert (“Mean Girls”) and Ryan Merriman (“Taken”) playing a pair of opposites who get stuck in an elevator together only to discover that fate may be the one with its finger on the door button. Workaholic attorney Jonathan Macintyre (Merriman) is too busy to make time for a personal life but when he gets trapped in the elevator with the carefree Liberty Taylor (Chabert), sparks fly and then fizzle for the seemingly mismatched pair, until a motherly secretary (Patty McCormick, “Frost/Nixon”) plays matchmaker.
The chemistry between Lacey and Ryan is wonderful. They are two fine young performers I’ve known since their teen years when they were both winning Young Artist Awards. To see them both grown up in the romantic comedy is a delight. Lacey (who grew up on “Party of Five”) says, “I had so much fun making this movie. Ryan is so sweet, funny, humble and so good at what he does. He’s just a breath of fresh air in a business where sometimes I find that the guy takes longer in hair and makeup than I do.”
As much as Lacey loved Ryan as her leading man, don’t expect to see their names linked together off the set because the handsome Merriman has been married to his high school sweetheart for five years. And Lacey says she has three loves of her own, “My Chihuahuas named Teacup, Teaspoon and Kitty.” When pressed, she will acknowledge there is a special man in her life this Valentine’s Day. She says that the storyline of “Elevator Girl” really resonated with her, “the whole idea of finding a magical connection with someone. These people live in different worlds but they can’t ignore what they’re feeling.” That’s love!
I Love You, Frank!
Now a special shout-out to my sweetheart, Frank Barron, who just celebrated his 91st birthday and has given me 29 wonderful years as my husband. Happy Valentine’s Day!