Photo by Matthew Murphy

Last Thursday marked the official Broadway opening of The Color Purple to extremely positive reviews... especially for the show's leading lady Cynthia Erivo. From its humble beginnings at the renowned and intimate off-West End venue that is the Menier Chocolate Factory in the Summer of 2013 to the bright lights of Broadway, what a journey this stripped-back and unapologetically honest production has made.

And the latest news is that the current Broadway company is to release a cast album and, in fact, they will be recording it today (Monday 14th December)! Produced by six-time Grammy Award winner Frank Filipetti, the album is scheduled to be released by Broadway Records on 29th January 2016, so stick that date in your diary pronto!

Another date to remember is this Saturday, 19th December. Tune in to the OWN Network for a special primetime television event called "Oprah Goes to Broadway: The Color Purple" which promises to document the musical's aforementioned journey, accompanied by interviews with current cast members, as well as Alice Walker, Danny Glover, Lupita Nyong'o, Cicely Tyson, Phylicia Rashad, and, of course, one of the show's producers Oprah Winfrey. Not to be missed!

I have followed the blossoming career of Cynthia Erivo in many of her West End and off-West End outings with sheer joy and have said for a long time that this girl truly deserves to be a global star. With a knockout performance as Celie in her Broadway debut and rave reviews, she is now well on her way.

I was fortunate enough to attend a preview performance at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre and was moved to tears not once, not twice, but thrice, ladies and gentleman! In a weird (and unwarranted) way, I felt like a proud father watching Cynthia blow the roof off and receive a standing ovation for her 11 o'clock number "I'm Here", as well as her curtain call. I am unbelievably happy for her and heartily recommend everyone to buy a ticket to her musical theatre masterclass.

Cynthia is wonderfully complemented by the unmistakable singing talents of Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson and the commanding stage presence and comic timing of Danielle Brooks. What a voice 'JHUD' has - light and shade - and touchingly soulful. She seduces both men and women alike on stage as Shug Avery and delivers one of her big musical numbers "Too Beautiful for Words" with just the perfect amount of tenderness. Ms Brooks, on the other hand, gives an instantly likeable figure as Sofia, offering up many of the evening's comic moments on a platter from which we are glad to eat the crumbs.

Director John Doyle's stripped-back production lets us focus on the music, the characters and the message without the distractions of the reportedly over-cluttered Broadway premiere which opened in 2005. This is without a doubt a more authentically theatrical experience of The Color Purple... And if it doesn't receive a Tony nomination for Best Musical Revival and if Cynthia Erivo doesn't earn one for Best Actress in a Musical, I will having nothing left to scream but "Hell No!"

Click here for tickets to The Color Purple, which is currently booking through to 1 May 2016 at Broadway's Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

- by Tom Millward

Photo by Matthew Murphy
Jennifer Hudson & Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple
More production photos