"The Color Purple" opened Tuesday night at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center to one of the largest and most enthusiastic crowds I've seen since the "Best of Broadway" series began 11 years ago.
Based on the novel by Alice Walker, and the film that made "Oprah Winfrey" a household name, the story is as sad as it is joyful, as affecting as it is authentic.
The large troupe, directed by Gary Griffin, made every moment of the 2 1/2-hour musical memorable, with a seemingly impossibly high energy and an abundance of talent.
All 19 members of the cast brought each well-drawn character alive, especially the church ladies, bursting into song with sass and style and delighting the audience.
Upon entering, we were reminded of the usual parameters -- and no yelling. That seemed a bit odd until about a minute into the show, when already you wanted to jump and shout with the ensemble on stage.
Choreographer Donald Byrd's sparkling inventiveness made the whole show a reason to dance, each of the major players a study in stage presence.
Celie slumped, drawing into herself until her final triumph, "Mister" raged until he learned to do some good, Shug Avery vamped, and Sofia came out fighting every time.
The music was especially interesting, covering a wide range of styles you will not be able to resist.