‘Violet the Musical’ lights up El Portal’s Monroe Forum

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The scars that we carry can boast of pride and recklessness, so often we hide them as a disfigurement, not realizing that those healed wounds create a greater depth and individuality. Yet those marks of mortality force others to realize how frail the flesh can be. And be it a simple mark or grievous wound, a scar also tells a story. Some are more glorious than others, yet all share a common theme, we are altered; yet it is our choice to release or hold fast the hurt.

Violet (a dazzling Kristin Towers Rowles) is story of a young woman searching for an identity. She is bold, yet does not acknowledge it. She is brave, yet does not realize it. Only by a journey from the backwoods of North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma, does she discover that she is much more beautiful than what a mirror projects.

The world is not as terrible as she imagines, as she is befriended by Flick (an amazing Jahmaul Bakare) and Monty (Michael Spaziani) steadfast companions that offer guidance and eventually, friendship.

This is set in 1964, where segregation, although illegal, was still enforced. The story displays the subtle and overt discrimination of the time. But this is a musical, and we are drenched with wonderful songs. Not only are they catchy, they carry the emotional weight necessary to move us.

This may be director Joshua Finkel’s best work. The stage is utilized in creative and ingenious ways. All performers stayed in character, with small nuances not lost on us. The pacing was just right.

Jahmaul Bakare wowed us with an impressive voice, as he stayed true to the songs that offered hope and solace.

Violet offers a fantastic cast, memorable songs and a story with which we can identify. No matter the wound, your beauty shines.

Highly recommended.

“Violet the Musical” runs through May 31st at the Monroe Forum at the El Portal Theatre, located at 5269 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. Call  (818) 508-4200 or visit www.kelrikproductions.org

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