Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hopeful Musical 'Violet' Is in Bloom on the North Side

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hopeful Musical 'Violet' Is in Bloom on the North Side

Article excerpt

The musical "Violet" is about with a disfiguring scar, but don't expect to see one when Elizabeth Boyke stars as the courageous optimistic heroine for Front Porch Theatricals.

The script specifies that the story and onstage reactions will tell us all we need to know about what others see in Violet, and what she sees in herself.

"The writers want you to focus on Violet's beauty inside and out, as opposed to the thing on her face, but you know it's there," said director Robyne Parrish. "It's challenging, because it's referenced quite a bit and some people are repelled by it."

Ms. Parrish first came to Point Park University for grad school and found work onstage at The Rep, City Theatre and Off the Wall. After 12 years living and working in New York, where she was the founding artistic director and executive director for six years of Sonnet Repertory Theatre, she returned to Pittsburgh full time. One of the companies she reached out to was Front Porch.

She heard back almost a year later, with a list of a half-dozen shows the company was considering, "and they said to choose two that speak to me."

"Violet" was one of the shows.

The protagonist of the musical by Jeanine Tesori ("Fun Home") and Brian Crawley sets out from her home in Spruce Pine, N.C., to seek the healing touch of a TV evangelist, and along the way, she meets an African-American soldier who helps her find her true beauty.

"Violet's" musical journey, with the help of a seven-piece band, features American roots music, gospel, honky-tonk rock and blues.

Ms. Parrish, like Violet, is from North Carolina, and the show "just spoke to me immediately; I knew these people."

Ms. Boyke, who stars as Violet, and the director had worked together before, on "Musical of Musicals the Musical" at Off the Wall Productions in Carnegie.

"She played one of the 18 million ingenues in that show, so I knew she was hysterical and immensely talented, but I wasn't thinking I knew who Violet was going into auditions - I was completely open," Ms. …

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