Hickory – Hickory Community Theatre’s upcoming production of THE COLOR PURPLE will feature two actors who are new to the Hickory stage, working alongside another who has been with HCT since 2016. THE COLOR PURPLE runs from January 21 through February 5 in the Jeffers Theatre.Two Newcomers Join HCT

Kayla Harper, who plays Squeak, made her HCT debut in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN as a member of the ensemble. She returned three months later in THE WIZ and has since gone on to play roles in RENT, DREAMGIRLS, AS YOU LIKE IT, RAGTIME, and HAIR. She also played Ursula in THE LITTLE MERMAID at The Green Room. Harper, who is originally from Washington, DC, relocated to Hickory about eight years ago and currently works for MDI. She was the first runner-up in the Hickory Rotary Club’s singing contest, Rotarian Idol, last March.

“My favorite thing about Hickory Community Theatre,” she said, “is the diversity and how the people become like family. I love the music in THE COLOR PURPLE. What I enjoy about playing Squeak is that she’s cute and enjoys being seen— just like me.”

Shar Marlin, who plays Sophia, may be new to HCT but the Charlotte actor brings a wealth of experience to her role. She has acted in 19 productions in the Charlotte area, with nine different theatre companies. Her resume includes a previous production of THE COLOR PURPLE with Piedmont Players in which she played Shug Avery. In 2017 she received a Broadway World Best Actress award for her role in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM. Like her costar, Harper, Marlin is also originally from Washington, DC, and relocated to Charlotte to attend college. She currently works as an accounts receivable associate with US Radiology Specialists.

“THE COLOR PURPLE is my favorite musical,” she says. “The thing I like best about playing Sophia is her song ‘Hell No’.”

Michael Stoudmire plays Harpo and like his fellow newcomer, he comes to HCT with several prior performance credits. Most of those credits are from theatres in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he lived for eleven years. He moved to Fayetteville in 2017 to be closer to his parents and just relocated six months ago to Mooresville, where he is a head cashier for Lowe’s Home Improvement. His past roles include Uncle Fester in THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Pablo in SISTER ACT, and Telly in GODSPELL. While living in Hawaii he worked at the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States.

“Being in THE COLOR PURPLE has been a dream of mine since I saw it on Broadway in 2008,” he said. “I relate to Harpo’s struggle with the concepts of masculinity. The Hickory Community Theatre is a beautiful place and the production team is so welcoming to new talent.”

Performances of THE COLOR PURPLE will be held on Fridays and Saturdays, January 21 through February 5 at 7:30 pm; Sunday, January 30 at 2:30 pm, and Thursday, February 3 at 7:30 pm. Opening night, January 21 features reduced-price tickets: $12 for adults and $10 for youth & students. Tickets for all other performances are $16 for adults and $10 for youth and students.

Tickets are available online at hickorytheatre.org, or by phone at 828-328-2283. Weekday box office hours are 12-5, Wednesday through Friday, or one half-hour before any performance.

Due to the continued rate of Covid-19 cases in Catawba County, and in accordance with the latest guidance from the CDC, the Hickory Community strongly recommends that patrons wear a mask or other face covering while inside the building.

The Hickory Community’s 73rd season is sponsored by Paramount Automotive and Sunbelt Xpress. THE COLOR PURPLE is produced by the United Arts Council of Catawba County, in association with Shurtape Technologies, LLC. HCT is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County.

PHOTO: Kayla Harper is Squeak, Michael Stoudmire is Harpo, and Shar Marlin is Sophia in THE COLOR PURPLE. Photo by John Koval.