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‘December, 2015’

“The Color Purple” is feminist musical soap opera about blacks in pre-1950s Georgia

“The Color Purple” is feminist musical soap opera about blacks in pre-1950s Georgia

John Doyle’s staging of “The Color Purple” is a hokey take on Marsha Norman’s dramatization of the Alice Walker novel about a young black woman in a society of predatory black men. Musical vignettes in jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues make this a visual chamber opera rather than a story play. The production numbers are appealing, the performers are very fine, so it works as opera. But as drama, the story lacks subtlety.

“A View From the Bridge” is strong minimalist depiction of honor vs. betrayal

“A View From the Bridge” is strong minimalist depiction of honor vs. betrayal

In Arthur Miller’s tragedy of poverty and patriarchy, director Ivo Van Hove strips out the naturalism of sets and real entrances and exits, so you have just the sense of primal actors. Is that why they wear street clothes but go barefoot? To remind us of the natural animal? (Otherwise it’s an affectation.)

The surreal sense begins with the pinkish light that suffuses the stage when longshoremen Eddie (a riveting and tragic Mark Strong) and Louis (Richard Hansell) appear after a hard day at the docks. There is chorale music in the background. They are in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

“The Count Meets The Duke: The Andersons Play Basie And Ellington.”

“The Count Meets The Duke: The Andersons Play Basie And Ellington.”

Following their 2013 Drama Desk nominated “Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz,” the brothers Peter and Will Anderson are back with another video and music show, this one about jazz greats Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Featured in “Le Jazz Hot,” Ellington was one of America’s black jazz musicians who went to France beginning in the 1920s, because the French were a lot more hospitable to them than were Americans.