Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-09-19
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

True Colors: A Talk with Michelle Williams and Jeanette Bayardelle
2007-03-28

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Jeannette Bayardelle (left) and Michelle Williams are among the talented entertainers in the upcoming local production of The Color Purple. Photos courtesy of David Rosenberg.

___________

By Amy Matheny

The producing team of The Color Purple brings the musical nominated for 11 Tony Awards to Oprah's hometown, Chicago, at the beautiful Cadillac Palace Theatre. The Color Purple took Broadway by storm—hailed by critics as 'roof-raising' 'epic' and 'a Broadway hit!' I saw it on Broadway and it is the Must See show of the year! Headlining the Chicago company as Celie is Jeannette Bayardelle who comes directly from the Broadway production, and Michelle Williams, former member of Destiny's Child, as the gal everyone loves—Shug Avery.

Amy Matheny: What do you miss about Destiny's Child?

Michelle Williams: Just the three of us always being together. You know, it's weird—them not being here. But you meet so many other wonderful people who become your sisters. It's like God always has you in different arenas. Some people have the same two people their whole life, but now we can branch out.

AM: I never thought about this until you just said that, but there's also a triumvirate of three women in this show: Celie, Shug and Sophia.

You recently performed on Broadway in Aida. What is the difference performing in concert and performing in a Broadway show?

MW: Well, I'm trying to get out of the 'whole performing as you're in concert' thing on the Broadway stage, because it's different. You just can't bust out into song in Broadway theater. It has to flow from dialogue. And you can't forget your words on Broadway. Now if you were performing in concert, you could put your mic out at the audience and say, 'Sing' and catch your breath.

AM: What makes the musical, The Color Purple, so successful?

Jeannette Bayardelle: The story itself is universal. And everyone can relate to it—doesn't matter what color you are, what religion you are. Everyone can find a piece of them [ selves ] in that story. And that alone carries it.

AM: What do people say to you when you walk out the stage door?

JB: [ They say ] 'I feel changed. I feel like I can accomplish anything. I want to reconcile with a loved one that I stopped speaking to. I've gained courage to get out of an abusive relationship.' So many different things.

AM: Both of you have a gospel background and I think the point of gospel music … is transformation and connection, connection to something higher and bigger than us, you know. [ And ] that's truly the theme, the message and journey of this play. Do you bring your [ gospel ] roots to this show?

JB: I think so. Like you said … it's [ transformation ] in the work, and it's what we do through our music. We want to bring the love of God to people. And I believe that this show does that—the love of God and the faith in God and hope.

AM: When Celie she sings, 'God is inside me, in everything,' it's such a beautiful message. What impact did the film have on you?

JB: I've watched the film over a hundred times. Unfortunately, I can't really watch it anymore because I'm in it, and it kinda just messes you up. But it was my favorite movie …and I can still quote every line in this show and every line in that movie.

AM: In the musical The Color Purple, Shug and Celie are given focus in a way that the Spielberg Oscar-nominated movie underplayed. The musical acknowledges the full relationship of Celie and Shug as lovers, and as very significant women to each other. Alice Walker has said that that was very important to her. Michelle, who is Shug and what does she see in Celie?

MW: Shug is just this feisty woman who is known to speak her mind a lot. I really think she was misunderstood by a lot of people and by the whole town. Once you really get to know her, really know why she is the way she is, you're like, 'Oh okay, she's not so bad after all.' I mean I could take a few lessons from Shug. Shug acts out sometimes because of things that she lacked growing up, [ and not ] being accepted for who she was by her father. Her father was a preacher. So I can imagine, growing up, [ there was ] this expectation that [ she ] shouldn't be going to the nightclubs, shouldn't be hanging out with all the wrong people…

AM: She was a Memphis girl.

MW: Yeah, I can see Shug on Beale Street hittin' the different juke joints and clubs every single night. But I think that her heart... Like my grandmother would always says, 'She means well.'

AM: How does Celie become changed because of this woman?

JB: I believe that Celie had good seeds planted in her at a young age. She had her sister always telling her that 'you're smart, and I'll teach you and it'll help you and we'll conquer the world.' They had dreams. But when she lost her sister, she lost that. I mean the seeds were still within Celie but she did not have anyone to water them at that point. She went from her father giving her away, to a husband, and then her sister leaving her. So the only influence that Celie has [ is ] Mister … and she didn't even know his name for years.

AM: I love that moment when she learns his name.

JB: He did plant and water bad seeds that maybe she's got from her step dad: 'You're ugly, you're worth nothing, you're nothing without me.' So Shug comes along, and she starts as they develop their relationship … to water the good seeds and starts planting more seeds and watering those. Celie eventually finds her own inner voice and says, 'You know what? I am beautiful. You know what? I am worth something. Wait a minute! I have a voice. I have an opinion'—and that's what Shug helps Celie do. When Celie decides to leave Mister, not only does she decide to leave him, but she [ knows ] 'I'm going to be ok.'

AM: They have written you two one of the most beautiful love duets, What About Love. It's just a beautiful song. It echoes throughout the show. What is it about that song? It's just gotta feel fantastic to sing that song.

JB: It's great singing it, and I feel like it that song depicts the relationship Celie and Shug has throughout the show. Celie starts off [ singing ] , 'Is that me floating away, lifted up to the clouds by a kiss, never felt nothing like this.' I feel like there's a lot of symbolism in that because—yes, the kiss—visually that's what you see. But it's not just a kiss. Celie has never had a relationship with a female outside of her sister. She never had someone who actually cared about what she thought and someone who took time to say to her, 'Girl, you don't let no man talk to you like that.' She never had that type of sisterhood. Her sisterhood she experienced as a child but this was different. Shug came to her when she was low and she [ had given ] up. And Michelle can speak on this further but Shug never had a relationship with a woman...

MW: Her [ relationships ] were all with men.

JB: And the women that she did come in contact with were intimidated by Shug. They didn't like her. But Celie had no motives against Shug. It was authentic, like 'Let me help you with your dress, and let me comb your hair.' That song in my opinion depicts that relationship.

AM: Shug does have these 'A-ha!' moments of ' [ Celie ] you have no idea what you're giving me.'

MW: Definitely. Even in [ the song ] Too Beautiful For Words, Shug says 'Man, if i had an ounce of what you have, I wouldn't have to run around shaking my boobs and waving my booty in front of everybody's face.' But she looks at Celie like you've got so many wonderful qualities. It's normal to look at somebody who's got the glitz and the glamour and [ think ] , they got everything, they gotta be happy. But then she's looking at [ Celie ] wanting what she has.

AM: I think it's beautiful that they find this intimate relationship. Michelle, you're about to release your first solo R&B CD. What do you want it to express about you?

MW: It's my third CD, [ and the ] first R&B [ one ] —the other two were gospel. So this time I'm going into a whole different arena. I went through a period of my life where I said, 'I've got to get it out. I've got to write about it.' So it may not fit the gospel format. My second CD talked about love and relationships and, you know working it out with God, letting him handle some things but … I've still got a huge gospel fan base, so I wouldn't ever do anything to upset them or do anything that is not me, but at the same time I didn't want to be put in a box, either. But I can't go too far from my roots, which was gospel.

AM: You sound like Shug Avery.

The Color Purple runs at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, on April 17-July 22. Tickets for The Color Purple are $28-$85 and are on sale at the Broadway In Chicago Box Offices ( 151 W. Randolph, 24 W. Randolph and 18 W. Monroe ) , Ticketmaster at 312-902-1400, online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

FALL THEATER: DESTINOS 'Destinos' theme is lifelong journey for founder Myrna Salazar 2018-09-19 - Think Rita Moreno mixed with your favorite world-traveler aunt who brings you trinkets from far-away lands and mesmerizes you with stories of intrigue ...


Gay News

'Destinos' picks 2018-09-19 - Destinos: The 2nd Annual Chicago International Theater Festival runs Sept. 20-Nov. 4. Produced by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance ( see related story ...


Gay News

FALL THEATER PREVIEW From Schaumburg to New York, Alexandra Billings puts on a show 2018-09-19 - Roughly 30 years ago, trans* actor/recording artist/pageant queen/activist Alexandra Billings was sentenced to death. The diagnosis: She was HIV-positive. She remembered the doctor's ...


Gay News

Burlesque community mourns abrupt closing of Uptown Underground 2018-09-19 - The speakeasy-style cabaret bar Uptown Underground was evicted Sept. 10, abruptly leaving performers to find a new home for their shows. The venue, ...


Gay News

FALL THEATER PREVIEW Easy does it, A dozen classic plays and musicals 2018-09-19 - My gambit is to recommend revivals of works that have been staged and tested previously in Chicago and elsewhere, sometimes uncountable times over ...


Gay News

Paula Vogel in Chicago Sept. 20 2018-09-19 - Goodman Theatre will host its "Igniting Imagination: The Art of Great Teaching" education and engagement luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 20, with Pulitzer Prize-winning ...


Gay News

FALL THEATER PREVIEW Artemisia Fest fights for femme presentation 2018-09-19 - Google Artemisia Gentileschi's 17th-century oil painting Judith Beheading Holofernes. Seriously. Do it. I'll wait. The image is emblematic of Gentileschi's art: Magnificent, lush ...


Gay News

FALL OPERA PREVIEW Operas cover love, lust and lesbians 2018-09-19 - Replete with princes in crowns, queens in leather, women in love and womanizers in lust, the start to this year's opera season is ...


Gay News

FALL OPERA PREVIEW Operas cover love, lust and lesbians 2018-09-19 - Replete with princes in crowns, queens in leather, women in love and womanizers in lust, the start to this year's opera season is ...


Gay News

Steppenwolf to run 'Ms. Blakk' in May 2018-09-19 - Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company is replacing its previously announced production of Tarell Alvin McCraney's Wig Out! with the world premiere of Ms. Blakk ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.