VIOLET may be a musical about a young woman who is horribly disfigured, but it's by no means gloomy or sad.
The musical is being presented by the Savannah College of Art and Design School of Performing Arts beginning May 8. Director Michael Wainstein says Violet, which is set in 1964, presents many serious issues that are still relevant today.
“Violet is a modern parable about a backwoods girl who was in a significantly disfiguring accident at age 13,” Wainstein says. “She lives in the mountains in North Carolina with her father. Her mother died when she was young.
“She dreams of finding a way to be beautiful again,” Wainstein says. “She sort of misguidedly goes to a television preacher to be healed. The story covers the first day of her journey to the end.”
While traveling on a bus, Violet meets two soldiers, one black and one white. “It becomes a play about racial division,” Wainstein says.
Just a month has passed after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Violet soon comes to realize the black soldier has as many disadvantages as she does.
“She says, ‘No one can see me. They only see the scar,’” Wainstein says. “The black man has the same experience.People don’t see him, they only see his black skin. The story is also about the social distinction of beauty. It’s a powerful story about race and beauty.”
And it’s set to a great gospel score. “It’s a really upbeat score with beautiful melodies,” Wainstein says. “It’s not sad, and has a very happy ending. It really talks a lot about looking past what is on a person’s outside.”
Audiences won’t see Violet’s disfigurement. “Although this girl has a very obvious scar, we do not depict it,” Wainstein says. “We ask the audience to imagine it.
“There is no way we could depict it as horrible as she imagines it herself,” he says. “And there are time shifts. We see a young Violet before the accident, so she doesn’t have the scar. There would be no way to do this on stage unless we had two Violets.”
Violet asks audiences to look past a person’s face to their heart. “Can we not be able to see past that which is superficial?” Wainstein says.
There are 21 students in the cast. Three of the leads are double-cast.
There are even big production numbers. “I wanted to do something different, with a contemporary score and with strong roles for women,” Wainstein says. “There is a big 60s dance number on Beale Street in Memphis.”
A panel discussion will be presented after the May 11 matinee. “We’re going to talk about cultural diversity and beauty and how far we’ve come,” Wainstein says. “It will be really interesting. The panel will pose some questions, then open up the discussion to the audience.”
VioletWhen: May 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and May 11 and 18 at 3 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the May 11 matinee.Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.Cost: $10 general public, $5 students/seniors/military and free for SCAD students, faculty and staff.Info: 525-5050 or www.scadboxoffice.com.