“Dear God …what is happening to me,” are the words that begin this musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, “The Color Purple.” The story line revolves around Celie, a 14-year-old girl who suffers physical abuse, poverty, rape, separation, abduction and spiritual uncertainty, but nonetheless perseveres through her adult years, to triumph over all adversity and find love, financial success, and forgiveness for her abuser.

Presented as a drama packed and song filled production, this Broadway Tony award nominated show is certainly music to the ears and beauty to the eyes of Los Angeles theatre goers (particularly African Americans), as night after night they are filling the seats at the Ahmanson, thus continuing to make the show a major theatrical success.

“Purple’s” star, Jeanette Bayardelle, gives a strong, rich, and captivating performance with a forceful and expressive voice, best showcased in her delivery of “Purple’s” anthem, “I’m Here.” As Celie she furtively pleads her case to the Almighty with a strong full voice that brings the audience to their feet applauding not only Bayardelle’s powerful singing, but adult Celie’s affirmation of her survival and thriving in what has often been a most cruel world.

Marsha Norman’s book for the show, faithfully retains many of the sad and joyful moments of the Pulitzer prize winning novel. And, director Gary Griffin’s vision of Purple maintains a consistent, suspenseful dramatic tone that successfully brings the audience through Celie’s abuse and hardships, sometimes with shock, sometimes with pathos, but always with a sense of determination and belief that something better must be possible.

Throughout this musical odyssey, the various tragedies experienced by the main characters, are cushioned with the inspired poignant and often uplifting and rousing gospel-blues flavored music written by the composer/lyricist team of Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Brenda Russell, and Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

Michelle Williams (formerly of Destiny’s Child) gives a formidable and impressive vocally robust performance as the catnip vamp Shug Avery, from whom all women must hide their man. However, Felicia Fields often steals the show with her portrayal of the lovable but fearsome Sophia, particularly when she sings her character’s defining song, “Hell No,”

Perhaps the strongest part of the musical is the second half which recounts the African sojournof Celie’s sister Nettie, played with charm and full voice by LaToya London. Act II fills the stage with pulsating dance, drumming, and (a bit over the top) African derivative costumes as Celie reads and seems to inhabit the recently discovered letters from her sister, letters which had been hidden from her for years by the callous and spiteful Mister, her abuser and source of misery and heartbreak.

Some of the more enjoyable “Purple” moments come from the supporting cast members, notably the Greek chorus styled church ladies who frequently show up and sing out a stimulating and mellifluous commentary on the ongoing drama in the lives of the main characters.

Everything seems to work together, the music, the choreography, the sometimes sunglass bright sometimes subtlety colored period perfect costumes by Paul Tazewell, and particularly those wonderful oversized back drops that provide a grand frame for the more life sized scene specific sets, both designed by John Lee Beatty.

Thankfully, this musical production does at least try to overcome one of the main criticisms of both the novel and the movie, wherein misandry (the feminine version of misogyny), seemed to be an underlying theme. The men are all canines view is in part balanced by Stu James’ robust and often comical interpretation of Harpo, a good man devoted to his woman (at least most of the time), and balanced in part by the explicit and very clear 180 degree metamorphosis of Mister, capably performed by Rufus Bond, Jr., who changes from a bitter hateful self involved abusive husband and father, to a vulnerable, reflective and sincere man earnestly striving to right his wrongs.

“The Color Purple” is absolutely a show for any and all who wonder why bad things are happening to them or others, and for those who need to know that survivors win and become triumphant simply by continuing to just stand.