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  Violet at The Den Theatre


The Den Theatre
1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Chicago

Based on the short story "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts, this award-winning musical fuses a powerful rock, folk and gospel score. With a ticket, a suitcase and a heart full of expectation, Violet Karl, facially disfigured since childhood, boards a bus and travels across the deep south in 1964 to see if a faith healer can transform her life. Along the way, she forms unlikely friendships with her fellow passengers, who teach her about beauty, love and courage and that it's the journeys you take in life that help you discover who you are.

Presented by Griffin Theatre Company

Thru - Jan 13, 2018

Price: $42

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-697-3830

  Violet Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...There is no archetype trickier than the televangelist, and there are times when Anthony Kayer slays them all with the sword of truth. But the show’s lack of understanding of the closeness of the audience eventually pushes him into more familiar and less interesting territory. Fundamentally, “Violet” is about what happens on the way to what we think matters. That’s what this oft-admirable production needs to better understand."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...These days Jeanine Tesori is most widely known as the composer of the Tony Award-winning musical, "Fun Home." But she first made her mark in 1997 with "Violet," a small, haunting, emotionally power-packed show that demonstrated her gift for incorporating gospel, folk, rock and country music, as well finely tuned Broadway-style banter songs, all in the service of impassioned storytelling."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Recommended

"...A good many things fail to ring true in this Griffin Theatre production. A certain romance, in particular, comes off seeming more necessary than believable. Still director Scott Weinstein and his strong cast get at the pain and longing present in Brian Crawley’s book and Jeanine Tesori’s Appalachian-influenced music. (Fans of Tesori’s better-known Fun Home will be interested in how much of that musical is prefigured here.) Set designer Lauren Nigri and choreographer Kasey Alfonso do wonders in a small space, and a gospel passage led by LaShera Zenise Moore pretty much stops the show."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...These encompass a saga offering the full spectrum of human experience within the microcosm of the strangers she encounters in the course of her pilgrimage-notably, a pair of likewise rootless GIs bound for duty in a remote foreign country called Vietnam. ( This is 1964. ) Griffin Theatre Company has long championed stories of humble citizens embarking on expeditions fraught with false promises and spiritual risk, but LaShera Zenise Moore's stirring rendition of Tesori's righteous gospel hymn "Raise Me Up" more than affirms our faith in the rewards meted out to the pure in heart."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Based on The Ugliest Pilgrim, a short story by Doris Betts, with book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, the show takes place in 1964 and follows the 25-year-old Violet as she travels by bus from her home in the hills of North Carolina all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Violet has a large, ugly scar running down her face, the result of an accident with an axe when she was 13, and she hopes that a slick, faith-healing televangelist (played with the perfect balance of charm and smarm by Anthony Kayer) whose show is filmed in Tulsa can make it disappear."
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Alex Huntsberger

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...The scar on the young woman’s face cannot be seen, but it is real – as real as the invisible wound in her soul. And so she leaves her southern farm on a bus for Tulsa to see a faith healer, in hope of once more finding beauty in the mirror. What she ultimately finds is unexpected, and far more profound, in the bittersweet musical “Violet,” offered by Griffin Theatre in a production notable for both its charm and its grit."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The strengths of "Violet" are manifold: every character has a backstory and a heart and the ensemble works to make them live sincerely. The singing is strong; in the case of the magnificent LaShera Zenise Moore as the gospel singer Lula, heartstopping. Loose ends, like what's written in Violet's dead mother's diary, don't really matter. What this play does best is get at the insecurity and optimism that flutters briskly in each of us."
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Irene Hsiao

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This bittersweet, musical road story is also a journey toward self discovery. It’s one young woman’s captivating, heartbreaking trip down the road to acceptance. Along the way we get glimpses of her past to understand what made Violet the young, insecure woman she’s become. The girl’s perseverance, her sheer passion to overcome difficulty and achieve her goal is what makes this heartbreaking musical so captivating."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Musical Theatre - Recommended

"...Tesori’s rich songbook is indicative of a Southern bus ride. Employing country, bluegrass, gospel and blues styles, highlights are the oft-reprised “On My Way,” led gorgeously by Laurenzi; Allen’s bring-down-the-house “Let It Sing;” and the gospel number “Raise Me Up,” belted out by the incomparable Lashera Zenise Moore as leader of the televangelist’s choir. But highlights are personal, and most Violet patrons will find their own among the universally strong performances of a stellar songbook."
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Barry Reszel

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...By the time the cast gets to the final song, “Bring Me To Light” (“If I tell you my heart has been opened wide / If I tell you I’m frightened / If I show you the darkness I hold inside / Will you bring me to light?”), you’d have to be dead not to be moved and uplifted. I saw a lot of tears around me, well earned by the performers. This is a show you will remember for a long, long time."
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Karen Topham

  Violet Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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