After shows like “West Side Story” and “Beauty and the Beast,” Northwest School of the Arts looks to take performances to another level by performing Oprah Winfrey’s Broadway production of “The Color Purple.” The high school is the first in North Carolina and second in the nation to receive permission from the Theatrical Rights Worldwide to do a fully staged production of the show. A high school in Atlanta was the first to receive permission to perform the musical. The NWSA musical will be performed from Sept. 14-16 at the Dale F. Halton Theatre, Central Piedmont Community College Uptown Campus. Tickets cost $12-$15 each.
The school’s director, Corey Mitchell, said this is the first time NWSA will put on a show so large, so early in the school year. The show holds big promise with some assistance from former Broadway cast members, local celebrities and other professionals with a vested interest in the show.
He has faith that this big-budget show will be the best in the nation. For starters, there have been thousands of hours invested in the musical before students even step foot on the stage. Many of those hours for Mitchell were spent at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City studying the progression of the show as perceived by directors.
There were 81 students who auditioned for the production, but only 27 were cast. There was one audition with two call backs. Half of the students were called back the second time, but as time went on students learned that the Broadway-styled auditions were going to be tough. It required students to learn their parts on the spot and do it right back. Once it was all over, students were then casted before the school year ended in the spring.
“When I watch the students perform, I watch them for what I can see in them and what they cannot see in themselves,” said Mitchell.
For rising junior Keston Steele it was all worth it. She will play Celie in the production.
“With this show I felt there was a better opportunity for me to be cast in the lead,” said Keston. “You think about shows like “West Side Story” and you want to be cast in the lead, but the show still has to be realistic.”
Along with the talent, Mitchell said this production is all about the details in the show. Some of the NWSA production will have original set pieces and costumes from the original Broadway show.
“It is about the costumes, set and detail work that goes into the look of the show, the color palette, baby bumps [when Celie was pregnant] and how Celie wears the color blue almost the entire show,” he said. “It is about a consistency standpoint for us. A great deal of detail to make it look consistent to the things we are renting from the Broadway show.”
Ticket may be purchased here or by calling the CPCC Box Office at 704-330-6534.