Monet on bringing a fresh look to ‘The Color Purple’ at Red Mountain Theatre

“The Color Purple” at Red Mountain Theatre. (Photo/Mary Fehr for Red Mountain Theatre)

As she directs “The Color Purple” at Red Mountain Theatre, Monet isn’t bothering herself with previous incarnations: Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, the Stephen Spielberg-directed movie in 1985, an acclaimed Broadway musical production on Broadway in 2005 and a Tony-winning revival in 2015, and, most recently, director Blitz Bazawule’s big-screen version of the musical.

“They’re just all different things,” Monet says. “What a great gift that Alice Walker’s work gets to get to so many people in so many different mediums.”

Monet’s addition to that canon opens Friday at Red Mountain Theatre, running through March 3, and she can’t think of a better place to mount Walker’s sweeping work spanning four decades in the often troubled life of Celie, a Black woman in rural Georgia.

“If somebody was like, ‘Do you want to direct ‘The Color Purple’ in New York?,’ I’d probably say, ‘No, thank you,’” she says. “But being able to direct ‘The Color Purple’ in the South, I couldn’t ask for a more ideal place to do it. It just felt like a very right thing to do.”

It also was an ideal time for the woman who has worked in theater, film, commercials and music videos with the likes of The Roots, John Leguizamo, Andrew Lippa and, most recently, Alicia Keys. She is associate director of Keys’ “Hell’s Kitchen,” a musical that is Broadway-bound.

But first, through a friend of a friend of RMT Executive Director Keith Cromwell, she’s made her way to Birmingham to bring an iconic work of art to the stage.


“It is especially special when you get to do a piece for a group and a community of people where it touches them a little differently,” says Monet, who grew up in Florida but often visited her grandfather in Mississippi during the summers. “’The Color Purple’ is just more familiar to us down here.”

Her cast at Red Mountain includes Myiesha J. Duff as Celie, Valisia LeKae as Shug, Jeremy Jefferson as Mister, Juna Givhan as Sofia, Dorian as Harpo, Deztonie Cunningham as Nettie and Halo Wheeler as Squeak, plus a large ensemble.

“I love them, and they’re extraordinary,” Monet says of her cast. “I work in New York, and that’s fun, but I just don’t believe that the only talent is in New York. There’s just extraordinary talent here. It’s a real treat and a real joy to be working with them. They’re very special and very, very talented.”

The sweeping nature of “The Color Purple” allows for a wide-ranging experience for the audience, Monet says.

“You get to experience hope and sisterhood and forgiveness and joy and pain, all in just one evening at the theater,” she says. “And I think that it is something very special that people will remember experiencing together as a community.”

Even if they’ve seen it before.

“The point of doing it again, and the reason that you can keep producing a piece like this, is because the piece in and of itself is almost indestructible,” Monet says. “It’s so extraordinary.”

“The Color Purple,” at Red Mountain Theatre, Feb. 9 through March 3.

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