This year’s gala honored playwright Lynn Cottage and educator Leonard Majzlin.
Review: ‘Purlie Victorious: A Non Confederate Romp Through The Cotton Patch’ is A Must Watch Revival
As the actors of “Purlie Victorious” step onstage in the first few minutes of the show, we see them set up furniture, share glances at each other, and talk so low that words can’t be made out. While that moment is brief, you begin to understand a great deal about them.
The original production of “Purlie Victorious” ran in 1961 and has never been revived until this year. Ossie Davis’ satirical comedy may seem a bit outdated, but the themes behind it are just as impactful as they were in the 60s.
Purlie Victorious Judson (Leslie Odom Jr.) is simple preacher who hires a woman Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins (Kara Young) to dress up as his long-lost cousin to trick harsh cotton plantation leader Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee into giving them money to save the community church Big Bethel.
The revival, directed by Kenny Leon, is a marvelous tribute to Davis. Leon stays true to the original material completely from dialogue to overall creative direction. It’s a refreshing choice for the revival to remain on par with Davis’ vision. Furthermore, Leon proves his ability to translate a work from the past to be taken as something of our present. “Purlie Victorious” is about how communities are the catalyst for change, In this production, the community bonds over rebuilding Big Bethel, and today we come together though common interests and fighting for social issues that will change the future.
“Purlie Victorious” isn’t only about community, but it’s additionally about hierarchy and masculinity. Ol’ Cap’n is a white Southern man and his position in society is far greater than Purlie’s. Therefore, it’s up to him if the church shall be built. Ol’ Cap’n son Charlie (Noah Robbins) is viewed as shrill by his father. Their relationship is quite rocky as a result with Ol’ Cap’n often pressing Charlie to “man up.” Ol’ Cap’n represents the old-fashioned perception of manhood as bearing control over others. This is additionally personified by a leather whip he carries. Ol’ Cap’n’s ideology permeates into his relationship with his employee Gitlow Judson (Billy Eugene Jones). Ol’ Cap’n sees him as less than due to his whiteness and furthermore his manhood. The play examines traditional notions of masculinity and interrogates the ways in which power dynamics operate within society. “Purlie Victorious” challenges societal norms and invites the audience to critically reflect on the intersections of race, gender, and power.
Leslie Odom Jr.makes an excellent returns to Broadway in “Purlie Victorious.” Odom Jr. brings depth and authenticity to every moment of the production, leaving a feel of awe throughout the audience. His delivery and nuanced expressions made the character come to life onstage. Davis originated the role, and Odom Jr. gives a touching tribute to the writer and performer. It was a true pleasure to see the award winning actor on stage since he left Hamilton seven years ago.
Odom Jr. and Kara Young truly outstanding together. Their chemistry on stage is palpable, bringing sheer authenticity to the story. Their communication with each other created a captivating dynamic that kept the audience engaged throughout the entire performance. Young’s dramatic portrayal of Lutiebelle, combined with her impeccable comedic timing, made her one of the standout performances in the show. She isn’t alone though, the entire cast delivered. It’s no surprise as they’re a number of eminent actors part of the production including Sanders, Jones, Heather Alicia Simms, and Vanessa Bell Calloway.
With its intricate set and historical costumes, “Purlie Victorious’” production design successfully transports the audience to the Jim Crow era. One noteworthy aspect was the attention to detail within the setting. Shelves are filled with props that exactly mirror the time period. The plot is made more vivid by the attention to detail, which also improved the immersion factor overall.
All things considered, “Purlie Victorious” is an excellent production that deftly combines history, humor, and social criticism. It offers a thought-provoking and enjoyable experience while illuminating the difficulties experienced in a post-slavery society. The production design is striking, the script is brilliant , and the performances are outstanding. “Purlie Victorious” is a real gem that will make you think about the nuances of our shared past while also leaving you with a smile on your face.
Exclusive: ‘Chemical Hearts’ Star Kara Young Discusses Intersectionality and the Revolutionary Black Experience [Video]
August 21, 2020, Amazon Studios released its romantic drama “Chemical Hearts.” The film focuses on the complexities and nuances of being a teenager and falling in love. Being young can feel overwhelming and falling in love at the same time can result in intense emotions, confusion, and excitement all at once.