If you take anything away from Musical Forum’s Violet, which opens tomorrow and runs through Monday, it should be that musicals do not have to be larger-than-life to grab the attention of audiences. Indeed, it’s Violet’s modest character that truly makes the show unique among its counterparts. Taking us into the world of twenty-two-year-old Violet, director Skylar Fox ’15 tells the story of a girl cursed with a facial scar caused by a childhood ax accident. The musical, made famous by actress Sutton Foster’s portrayal of Violet and based of the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” explores themes of identity, beauty, and inner peace.
The two-act journey takes us from North Carolina to Oklahoma circa 1964 as we follow Violet, played by the delightful Ellen Zanheiser’14, as she seeks out a charismatic televangelist whom she hopes will heal her scar. To the surprise of no one but the regrettably naive heroine, the televangelist doesn’t heal the scar, leaving both Violet and the audience wondering what she will do next. Evan Silver’16, a stand-out who portrays both the passionate televangelist and the not-as-enthusiastic bus driver, so expertly slips into the skin of the dramatic, sensationalist preacher that we find ourselves sympathizing with Violet’s belief in his abilities. The infectious, gospel-inspired “Raise Me Up,” sung by the angelic voice of Becca Millstein ’16, has the audience clapping and stomping right along with its robe-wearing chorus. Along the way, we receive glimpses into Violet’s childhood. Explaining everything from Violet’s scar to her Christian devotion, childhood Violet (Sarah Black ’16) and her father (Jesse Weil ’16) help us to better understand the origins of Violet’s insecurities.