Skip to main content

Theater Review: "Violet"

Theater Review: "Violet"



"Violet" opened on Broadway at the American Airlines Theater earlier this year. It is a revival of the Jeanine Tesori-Brian Crawley musical, which premiered off-Broadway in 1997, and is based off a one night only Encores! concert version done last summer. The plot revolves around a young woman, Violet, who has a scar across her face as the result of a horrific accident when she was young. She travels from North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma to seek the healing powers of a televangelist. Two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster portrays the title role. A complete departure for the star, known for her energetic tap- dancing  performances in musicals like "Throughly Modern Millie," and "Anything Goes". In "Violet" however,  Foster does not dance, does not have a single costume change, and wears no makeup. Any concerns that leaving her comfort zone would hinder Foster's preformance are put to rest the moment this dazzling production begins.



Directed by Leigh Silverman, "Violet's" stripped down feel complements the story, set largely on a Greyhound bus, perfectly. The supporting cast also does a wonderful job at filling in Violet's world. Alexander Germignani and Emerson Steele portray Father and Young Violet, respectively, as scenes depicting her childhood before and after the accident are interspersed throughout the show. Both are excellent, as is Annie Golden, who plays an old busybody Violet meets on the bus. Also among the passengers, Monty (Colin Donnell) and Flick (Joshua Henry). This reunites Foster and Donnell, who also starred in the 2011 revival of "Anything Goes". But it's Henry, who as an African-American soldier in the South in 1964, who really shines in this Tony-nominated role. 

Another highlight is the music. Tersori's score is filled with every from gospel to country to the blues. Standout songs include the jaunty 'On My Way', the expressively beautiful 'Lay Down Your Head', and the show-stopping 'Let It Sing'. This was the first time in a long time that I actually walked out of the theater actually humming the tunes. 

If "Anything Goes" was a showcase for Foster's dancing, then "Violet" is a showcase for her acting. Perfectly comfortable with the darker material, Foster switches from optimistic to devastated, hopeful to hopeless in an instant. While the scar is not visible on her face, the pain is. Not only do you completely buy into the fact that she is Violet (as opposed to an actor playing Violet), there are moments when everyone sitting in the audience becomes Violet as well. The universal nature of the hurt Violet feels is expertly used to get the audience to care about this character, even when we shouldn't. Not only did she expect to have her scar removed, but to be made beautiful, with "Ingrid Bergman cheekbones", as if the Lord was some sort of magician. There are also parallels to "The Wizard of Oz", especially when Violet comes to realize the televangelist is nothing but a charlatan, and that she was placing all her faith in him, instead of God.

The biggest surprise from "Violet" comes near the end, where she is actually healed by God. No, her physicals wounds are not healed, but her emotional ones are. She is finally able to move past the accident, and fall in love. The journey is at times tough to watch, but extremely rewarding in its evocative and stirring portrayal of deeply scarred woman. Perhaps the most satisfying experience at the theater in the past couple years, "Violet" is not to be missed.


TimScale: 80/100
Now until August 10th at the American Airlines Theater

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ranking the "Mission: Impossible" Films Worst to Best

The Mission: Impossible movies, based on the 1966-73 television series, are about Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Mission Force doing something that seems impossible at first, but always ends up being possible. Tom Cruise stars in all the films as Ethan, and other members of the team are Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg). I like the Mission: Impossible movies because each film has a different director and thus each one has their own distinctive feel. Sure, there are a couple of constants (Cruise is in them all, they all are spy/action movies, and they all have people wearing masks - a nod to the TV show), but going into a Mission: Impossible movie you are never quite sure what you are going to get. Sometimes it's a silly fun spy franchise, other times it feels like nothing more than an excuse for Tom Cruise do to some sort of crazy stunt. Since the first film was released in 1996, there have been five movies, with a sixth on the way. Here's how I would rank the movies …

Hollywood Has Failed Kate Hudson: A Report After Watching All Her Movies

Why has Kate Hudson been in so few good movies? 17 years later, the actress is still waiting to make good on the promise she showed in Almost Famous. 
When Kate Hudson first appears about 20 minutes into Almost Famous, the tenor of the movie changes. She's like a lightning rod of energy that once Cameron Crowe's camera finds her, it has no choice but to tell her story. She radiates off the screen, demanding you pay attention to her performance. And what a performance it is. Intense vulnerability hidden behind a vivacious exterior of fur-lined coats and round sunglasses. It's such a great performance and a great movie that I was shocked to look at Kate Hudson's profile on Metacritic sometime in late 2015 (when I first saw Almost Famous) and find merely one movie since Almost Famouswith a green Metascore. Could it be possible that an actress as talented as Kate Hudson has only been in two good movies in the past decade and a half? How had out of the 20-something movies sh…

Film Review: Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted
For my first post, I'll be reviewing "Muppets Most Wanted". Let me start off by saying that I am a huge Muppet fan, and have been since I was very young.  So, needless to say, I had very high expectations for their eight feature film. And I am happy to say, I was not disappointed. "Most Wanted" picks up after the events of the 2011 reboot, "The Muppets", and follows the gang as they embark on a World Tour. Oh, and Kermit is replaced by his evil doppelg√§nger, Constantine, but that's a very minor subplot and doesn't really go anywhere.
"The Muppets" was a nostalgia-filled reintroduction to these characters, who hadn't been on the big screen since 1999's "Muppet From Space". The reboot hit all the right notes to get people to care about these characters again. And it worked perfectly for that movie. But now Muppets fans, like myself, wanted the next one to be a classic Muppet adventure, and not as …