“Violet” a Lovely, Sad, Ultimately Hopeful Musical
By Skip Sheffield
“Violet” is a sad and lovely musical presented through Feb. 7 in the Amaturo Theatre of Broward Center for the Arts.
Based on the book “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, “Violet” features music by Jeanine Tesori and book by Brian Crawley under the direction of Patrick Fitzwater.
In a curtain speech, Fitzwater explains that while the character of Violet has a disfiguring scar on her face, he chose not to have it depicted through makeup or prosthetics. Lindsey Corey, the young woman who plays Violet as an adult, is actually quite lovely with a matching lovely voice. Her younger self in flashbacks is played by winsome 10-year-old Lucia Fernandez de los Muros.
It is because of her scar that Violet decides to travel by bus from North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where there is a faith-healing television evangelist she thinks may heal her.
The year is 1964 and the Vietnam War is heating up. On the journey west, Violet meets two soldiers. The older of the duo is Flick (Andre Russell), an African-American soldier in his 30s. Monty (Alex Jorth) is a younger paratrooper preparing to ship off to war. Both men develop an interest in Violet for different reasons. Their emotions are played out in songs, backed up by a live ensemble led by Manny Schvartzman. Shane Tanner plays Violet’s father; a complicated role that is neither hero nor villain. A show-stopper is Kendra Williams, who sings a gospel-inflected ballad “Lonely Stranger” and returns with the reprise “Anyone Would Do.”
“Violet” is about hope, love and regrets. It had a rather short run on Broadway. We are fortunate that Patrick Fitzwater had the astute judgement to select it for his first Slow Burn season at Broward Center. It is gratifying to be introduced to a new work.
Tickets are $45. Call 954-462-0222 or go to www.browardcenter.org.