All things ‘Purple'

Formal gala to premiere opening of ‘Color Purple' play

Felicia Walton, third from left, director and producer of “The Color Purple, with cast members, from left, Brasley Small, Kareena Wallace and Bernard McCullough in downtown Gainesville.

AIDA MALLARD/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.

You can enjoy an evening of entertainment by local artists, while feasting on hors d’oeuvres, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne at the Purple Carpet Gala to premiere “The Color Purple,” an adaptation of the Oprah Winfrey Broadway musical.



What: The Purple Carpet Gala to premiere “The Color Purple,” an adaptation of the Oprah Winfrey Broadway musical.
When: 5 p.m. July 14.
Where: Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave.
Tickets: $25 in advance and at the door.
Information: Call 352-505-0174.

What: “The Color Purple,” directed and produced by Felicia Walton.
When: 7:30 p.m. July 19 and July 26; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. July 20 and July 27, and 4 p.m. July 21 and July 28.
Where: Performing Arts Center at P.K. Yonge, 1080 SW 11th St.
Tickets: $25 in advance, $40 at the door.
Information: Call 352-505-0174.

The gala will be held at 5 p.m. July 14 at the Thomas Center at 302 NE 6th Ave. Tickets are $25, and will be available in advance from cast members, online at, and at the door.

Felicia Walton, founder and artistic director of DanceCentral! Productions, said the gala, which will serve as the regional premiere of the opening of the play, will provide an opportunity for the community to meet and greet the director and the cast, which is composed of artists from Gainesville and Alachua County.

Walton said the gala and the production will be presented in collaboration with DanceCentral! Productions and The Star Center Children’s Theatre, which was founded by Rhonda Wilson, the theater’s artistic director.

The gala is a purple carpet formal, so Walton is encouraging those attending to dress in formal attire in shades of purple. Cast members will provide the entertainment, including singing, dancing, poetry and musical selections from “The Color Purple” and other Broadway productions. There also will be a punch fountain, hors d’oeuvres, dessert, champagne — alcoholic and non-alcoholic – with chocolate-covered strawberries and other delights.

“I want them (the participants) to feel the excitement the cast and I feel to present a production of this magnitude to the community,” Walton said.

Wilson said the gala will be an exciting event with familiar faces, professional performances, singing and dancing. “The gala is important beause it will be the regional premiere of “The Color Purple,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be an amazing production.

During the gala, those attending will have an opportunity to purchase tickets to “The Color Purple,” which will be held at 7:30 p.m. July 19 and July 26, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. July 20 and July 27, and 4 p.m. July 21 and July 28 at the Performing Arts Center at P.K. Yonge school at 1080 SW 11th St. Tickets will be $25 in advance and $40 at the door.

The production of “The Color Purple” will be an adaptation of the Oprah Winfrey Broadway musical based on the 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” by author Alice Walker. The book was made into a movie by director Steven Spielberg.

“This is a brand new production,” said Wilson. “The story is based on Alice Walker’s novel and Opra Winfrey’s Broadway production. It’s not like the movie.”

Walton said “The Color Purple,” which has a cast of 30 local artists, is a family saga of hope, love, faith, strength and forgiveness. It tells the story of Celie, portrayed by Wilson, who is a black woman from Georgia who finds the strength to triumph over a lifetime of abuse she has suffered at the hands of her father, Pa, portrayed by Cornelius Pride, and later her sadistic husband, Mister, played by Jonathan Alexander.

Other cast members are: Tradina Thomas and Jahnae McGriff, who play Nettie; C’Javia Jones, who portrays a young Nettie; Niyin Smith, who plays a young Celie; Amanda Edwards as Shug Avery; Sebrenah Phillips as Sophia; Isiah Blount as Harpo; LaKenya Ellis as Darlene; Jamaili Tyler as Jarene; Frederica McCullough as Doris; Jacquetta Lang as Church Lady, and Artiana Brown and Meleaya Merriman as Sqeak.

Wilson is thrilled to be playing Celie.

“It’s the role I always wanted to play,” Wilson said. “Despite the adversity Celie experienced, her love of her family carried her even when she had moments of doubt in her faith.”

Walton said she feels honored to be bringing “The Color Purple” to Gainesville.

“This production will make you laugh and cry and everyone will leave entertained,” Walton said. “But what I want them to take with them is the knowledge that no matter how hard life is and regardless of how difficult your journey is, God will provide you a way of escape. He follows you in to bring you out!”

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