Park Square Theatre opened in 1975 as a small, 80-seat theater in the Park Square building of downtown St. Paul. Since then, they’ve moved into a larger facility boasting a 350-seat proscenium stage and a 200-seat thrust stage. Park Square Theatre is now one of Minnesota’s top employers of local stage talent — 64 percent of whom are women and artists of color. Their education program engages one of the nation’s largest teen theater audiences.
In 2015, Park Square Theatre put on a critically-acclaimed performance of The Color Purple. The performance was the centerpiece of Park Square’s first season with two stages, and featured an all-black cast of 19 actors, including some of the biggest names in Twin Cities theater — T. Mychael Rambo, Regina Marie Williams, Aimee Bryant, Dennis Spears, and Thomasina Petrus.
“I have attended plays and musicals in various venues, but no productions have impacted me as much as The Color Purple did.” —Playgoer
A musical based on the novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple is the largest production in Park Square’s 40-year history. The show, which ran for 35 performances, broke single-show and box-office attendance with a record 11,178 tickets sold. Equally significant is that about 35% of The Color Purple audience were patrons of color. Six student matinees drew near-capacity audiences from across the metro area.
The show’s impact on local teens is evident from the many heartfelt letters they wrote to the artists. Sample quotes include, “There are not enough words that can describe the emotional journey your show took me on,” and “I have attended plays and musicals in various venues, but no productions have impacted me as much as The Color Purple did.”
Critics also raved about the performance, including the critic at the Pioneer Press, who said “Some of the most powerful voices in the Twin Cities are raising the roof every night at The Color Purple.”