“Violet,” while not technically a new musical, may as well be considered one. After all, it essentially disappeared after receiving a short Off-Broadway run in 1997. In any event, it’s far better than any of the other new musicals to premiere on Broadway this season. And with Sutton Foster in the title role, its Broadway premiere is an absolute triumph that should not be missed.
This streamlined adaptation of Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s intimate, psychologically-charged musical, which was originally produced as a one-night concert at City Center last summer, was added to the Roundabout’s Broadway season at the last minute when its revival of Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” had to be pushed back to accommodate Ewan McGregor’s schedule.
It observes Violet, a young southern woman with a scar running down her face due to a brutal accident. Set in the early 1960s, she has boarded a Greyhound bus determined to find a televangelist who she hopes can heal her scar. On the way, she meets two soldiers. She sleeps with one but finds a true emotional connection with the other. Her journey is frequently interrupted by painful childhood memories.
Everything about “Violet” is extraordinary, from its captivating, character-driven storytelling and pulsating country-rock score to the focused direction from Leigh Silverman and pitch-perfect casting.
Foster, a two-time Tony winner, gives her most expressive, deeply felt and vibrant performance to date, fully capturing the character’s yearning and volatility. It ought to be required viewing for all aspiring stage actors. She is joined by the similarly excellent Joshua Henry, Colin Donnell, Alexander Gemignani, Annie Golden and Ben Davis.
If you go: “Violet” plays at the American Airlines Theatxxre through Aug. 10.
227 W. 42nd St.,roundabouttheatre.org.