San Diego Rep’s Bright ‘Violet’
There’s a lot to like in San Diego Rep’s Violet; the set by Guilio Perrone, Jeanne Reith’s period costumes, the musical direction of Korrie Palliotto and most notably, the fantastic group of actors under Sam Woodhouse’s direction.
The story itself, though, is the weakest link because it nowhere near matches what the talent up on stage brings to it.
With a book by Brian Crawley and music by Jeanine Tesori and Crawley, Violet, which had a nice run on Broadway last year (starring my favorite person ever, Sutton Foster as Violet), tells the story of a disfigured young woman from a small 1960’s North Carolina town who hops on a bus to Oklahoma in search of a televangelist who she hopes can heal the scarring on her face.
Along the way, she meets a host of characters, including two young soldiers bound for Arkansas, Monty (Jacob Caltrider) and Flick (Rhett George).
The three bicker like old friends but soon, Flick, an African-American, takes a liking to her and it seems like the feeling is mutual on Violet’s part. Both are judged by the way their appearances and their bond is the heart of the story. When things shift back to the search for the televangelist (an appropriately smarmy Jason Heil), you find yourself wanting to get back to that meat of the play. There’s also a series of flashbacks with young Violet (Katelyn Katz) and her father (Jason Maddy) that at times stop the momentum. These scenes are great – especially the church scenes with the pastor – but we’ve grown to care for Violet and Flick so much that we want them back. We want more of their story.
That being said, the performances are so knock ‘em out of the park, that all of this seems a bit trivial to point out.
Hannah Corrigan is a winner as Violet. She’s got a voice as pure as Foster’s and as much talent to boot. She can make you laugh one second and then want to give her a big hug the next. George, who was in the original cast of Memphis, is another treat to watch. He’ll quickly grow on you as the gentle, confident dreamer, Flick. You can be sure he’ll always have Violet’s back. And Caltrider only adds to the mix as the always looking out for number one, Monty.
Rounding out the cast is Melinda Gilb, Kurt Norby and the always reliable Bryan Banville. And sit back in your seats when Tanika Baptiste and Anise Ritchie sing because they’ll blow you away.
Violet runs through September 13th. For more information and tickets, go to SDRep