November 9, 1998
ACT's 'Violet' warms audience hearts
by Deborah Stone
The final play of ACT's season, "Violet," takes audiences on one woman's journey toward self-acceptance.
The show is an exuberant new musical by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley and was the winner of the New York Drama critics Circle Award for Best Musical in 1997.
Set to a rich score of gospel, bluegrass and R&B, "Violet" is the story of a young woman's pilgrimage to a faith healer and her hopes of a miracle to restore her lost beauty.
It is based on the short story "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts and is a delightful piece of musical theatre about faith and redemption and the nature of beauty.
Violet, horribly disfigured by a facial scar (the result of an accident when she was a young girl while her father was chopping wood), has longed to "borrow Elke Sommer's hair, Judy Garland's pretty chin, Grace Kelly's little nose with Rita Hayworth's skin" and become movie star beautiful, guaranteed to stop men in their tracks.
At the age of twenty-five, she sets out on an odyssey across the American South to reach the Hope and Glory Building in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she hopes to be healed by a famous television preacher.
Along the way, she meets people who convey their visions and feelings about the true meaning of beauty, and in the process she discovers her own inner strengths and learns to accept herself.
The play intertwines scenes of Violet's childhood and her memories with the present action, providing a glimpse into her anguished past and dreams for a more promising future.
Lauren Ward, as the title character, played the role of Violet in the show's premiere production in New York, and it is obvious why she received various nominations and awards for her performance. Ward gives a glorious passion and inspiration to her character, filling the theater with her strong vocals and energy.
The supporting ensemble of actor-singers is a talented group who get to portray a variety of individuals that become an important part of Violet's life.
Special kudos go to local actress Vicki Noon, thirteen years old, who plays Young Vi with spunk and determination.
"Violet" runs through November 15th. For ticket information call 206-292-7676.