The Original Purlie hit Broadway March 15th, 1970. Thirty-six years later its charisma and soulful vibe intoxicates audiences all around including that of the Spelman Drama Theater. On March 23, 2006, I viewed the performance which was a success when the various elements of the performance are intermingled.
As far as acting, the performers were able to convey the feelings they needed to. However, some characters such as Ol' Cap'n played by Dick Lambert and Luttibelle played by April Curry, seemed more committed and engaging in their roles than others. A crucial factor in April Curry portraying her role so well was her vocal talent far exceeded that of any of the other major performers. She had an amazing voice that I was dazzled by from curtain up to down and left me craving for more. This almost compensated for my disappointment when it came to the ensemble singing to the soundtrack. Many performers were dependent on the cd and were not confident as to when to begin or stop singing, which dampered many moments of the performers. Another element of acting that I enjoyed was the exaggerated use of cooning throughout the duration of the performance that brought characters to life, and enabled certain moments to seem real.
The production had many elements which for the most part formed a coalition to further the plot. The characters, the three part scenery and costumes represented well the period of time these people were going through. As far as the performers entering and exiting the stage, it could have been more organized. There were a few times when the performers exited at the wrong times or it seemed so due to the echo of the music. At certain moments the music was slightly loud and drowned the performers. Many of the songs dragged on, so the pacing could have been more effectively executed. Though the music was off at times, the director's decision to have most of the songs performed center sage was a wise one. Also the implementation of actual white characters that were competent in their roles came as a great surprise to the audience and heightened the realism.
The stage was in proscenium form so it allowed most audience members to have the same amount of viewing as others throughout the theater. Due to the theatre space being so small and intimate, it created the relevant atmosphere of everything on stage happening to be small.