Taprena Augustine tugs at fans’ hearts in her role as the sultry songstress, Shug Avery, in “The Color Purple,” the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The talented actress and singer has been touring the U.S. and Canada for the past year and a half and looks forward to traveling to other continents. She shares her back story with rolling out and tells why the show is a must-see. –yvette caslin
I did my first theatrical production while in junior high school in New Orleans. From there, I continued in high school, studying at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. I didn’t major in theater while in college, but I studied it. When I lived in Atlanta, I studied at the Professional Actors Studio.
People may not know:
I used to live in Atlanta and performed in plays at The Alliance Theater and Atlanta Lyric Theater. I was in a band on the underground R&B scene. I sang background for old school artists Cherrelle and Glenn Jones.
Fondest memory of ‘The Color Purple”:
My best memory of the book itself is Alice Walker’s choice of words to convey the drama and tragedy and, also, the joy of the characters. It’s simply profound and beautiful.
How did you prepare to play the character Shug Avery?
Researching the Reconstruction period and what African Americans were going through during that time as well as Alice Walker’s intention for the character. Also, I researched what African American vocalists endured while being on the road, the music of that time and the singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. That’s only the start of [training] to make [the] character as realistic as possible.
Most exciting experience touring with this musical:
Honestly, it’s the emotions and reactions that we get from the audience every night from beginning to end and never being able to anticipate what the audience will react to and how they will react. That’s the beauty of this play.
Even if you have seen the play before, it is something that you should come out and see again. That’s the beauty of live theater. You get something different every show — a different energy. It’s a play that everyone has to see at least once in their lifetime.
For tour information, visit www.colorpurple.com.