Theatre Review: ‘Violet’ at MusicalFare Theatre

The cast of “Violet” at MusicalFare Theatre. Photos by Jesse Sloier and Chris Cavanagh

There’s no denying the seemingly dark times we are all stuck in. This is when good theater becomes a life-saving remedy, letting us escape the fears and uncertainty of the outside world and cling on to hope. If there was ever a musical where the feeling of hope is a character, it would be “Violet.”

. . . filled with heartwarming moments and great, inspiring vocals.”

MusicalFare’s production, directed by Susan Drozd, opened this week and is a welcome, feel-good show.  The story, based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, follows Violet, a young woman plagued with a hideous  facial scar after a freak accident with an axe. Having spent her life being stared at and ridiculed for her face, she embarks on a bus trip from North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to be healed by a televangelist.

Michele Marie Roberts is vocally stunning as Violet. Jeanine Tesori’s lively, soulful music offers many opportunities for Roberts’ voice to soar and she does not disappoint. While there isn’t a lot of time spent on the depth of Violet’s struggles, Roberts conveys her overwhelming faith  that she will be healed in an endearing way.

Dudney Joseph, Jr. is incredible as Flick, one of the soldiers who befriends Violet on the bus. His songs are a highlight and he delivers a lovable character. Ben Michael Moran is unstoppable as the preacher, nearly blowing the roof off of the theater with his energy and entertaining performance.

Additionally, the flashback scenes between young Violet (a promising performance by Maria Farugia) and her father (Jeffrey Coyle) are the best acted in the show, both heartwarming and heartbreaking at times.

Theresa Quinn did an excellent job directing Tesori’s music, highlighting  each of the twelve actors with various solos and bit parts while also honing their strength as an ensemble. Ember Tate specifically shines during the music hall scene, showing off sweet, luscious vocal chops.

The story flows quickly and effortlessly, However, the plot and characters are rather underdeveloped, though it appears that is the fault of the musical itself, not this production specifically.

Overall, MusicalFare’s rendition of “Violet”  is filled with heartwarming moments and great, inspiring vocals. If you have the time and you’re looking for a feel-good show, add this to your November calendar.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours including a 15 minute intermission

“Violet” runs until December 3, 2o17 and is presented at MusicalFare Theatre. For more information, click here.