Friday, October 13, 2017

The Color Purple Brings Soul to Baltimore

Written by  Frankie Kujawa

Charm City, a town known for “bleeding purple” in support of its NFL football team, will have a new reason to enjoy the color this October. Running from Tuesday, October 17th to Sunday, October 22nd at the Hippodrome Theatre, The Color Purple brings its soul-raising score of jazz, gospel, ragtime, and blues to Baltimore. The 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival provides audiences with a re-imagining of an epic story about Celie and her journey to love and triumph in the American South. Baltimore OUTloud recently sat down with actor Kyle Baird, who plays the roles of Buster and Bobby in the performance.

“I actually play what’s called a split track,” explained Baird. “Buster is Sophia’s new boyfriend, who she brings to town to make Harpo jealous. Bobby, on the other hand, is a character toward the end of the show that interacts with Celie, the lead character. His main purpose is just to make her feel, and remind her that she is beautiful.”

It’s easy to feel comfortable and charmed, chatting with the congenial Connecticut native. “I get to tell this story of a triumphant black woman who battled unimaginable odds and comes out victorious all across the country. A country, I might add, that needs to hear a story like this.” Baird added, “I just try to promote the notion of ‘love and be loved.’ We’re all on this stage to tell Celie’s story. Every moment I live on stage is to tell Celie’s story to the audience and let them see who she is and her journey.”

For Baird, The Color Purple marks the actor’s first national tour. “I’ve done a lot of regional work and smaller stuff. I saw this production on Broadway with a friend, and I sat back during intermission and said, ‘This is my show.’ I was just so focused on the acting. These voices, in this production, are some of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard. Every single voice and choice is about the acting.”

Baird believes that Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, the book in which the production is based off of, still is relevant today. “The character of Celie represents everybody. She is anybody who has ever dealt with any type of struggle. Definitely the struggle of self-image, self-worth, and who we are. I think Alice Walker really hit something on the head with making Celie relatable. Her struggle from beginning to end – starting in such a low place but her triumph is so high and we can find ourselves somewhere. I do think Alice Walker gave a voice, even now, a voice to an audience that didn’t necessarily have a voice, and I guess specifically to young, black women. But however, as a gay man, I find that voice resonating within me, as well.”

Baird added, “So, I think that she made a very relatable character and a story that needed to be told and she wrote it so beautifully. It is so eloquent and a page-turner. I actually just re-read the book and I finished it three days before rehearsals started because I wanted it to be fresh. It’s so poetically written.”

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