PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Violet Saviors, Scars and Sutton

By Michael Gioia
21 Apr 2014

Colin Donnell
Photo by Monica Simoes
The scar, however, was not visible on Foster's face. Director Leigh Silverman specifically set out to make the scar a metaphor in which everyone could relate to.

"It's real, but it's not real," she explained. "We all have trauma from our childhood that we're trying to work through and accept and understand, and I feel like the story works literally, but it also works as metaphor. In the most exciting tradition of theatricality, I felt like it was better to not show that scar and to instead challenge the audience to use their imagination and use their creativity to understand the story that we're presenting. I'm just so grateful every night when I look at that audience and they're leaning in to follow that story. That is what we hope for."

"First of all, people's imaginations are more powerful that anything we could depict, so from day one, we were like, 'We will not show the scar' to make it a universal story," said Foster.

"It's a very simple story," added Colin Donnell, the musical's Monty. "It's something that people are able to relate to very easily. It's about a girl, who really, really wants something, and she wants what a lot of people want in this culture — to be beautiful — and I think people are really latching onto that, and they're walking away being moved by something that's very simple."

Simplicity takes center stage in Violet, where director Silverman sets a few chairs against a tarnished, light-blue background. A band is placed on a raised platform, and the characters' vulnerability takes the forefront.

"Violet's got this visible scar — people look at her and they automatically [think], 'Oh!' Flick is an African-American in the '60s. He doesn't get a lot of respect," Henry compares. "In the army, maybe he's got a certain rank, but outside of that — especially in the South — he can't eat at the same tables as other people… They both see in each other the amount of fight that they've had to have to get to this point in their lives, and I think they admire that in [each other]. Flick definitely admires that in Violet, and eventually they realize, 'Well, we both got these scars. We can be that healing for each other, possibly.'"

Although a savior can't erase our scars — literally and metaphorically, both on stage and off — Violet proves that love (from each other and from one's self) can heal all wounds.

"This is our moment to find out that we can love ourselves no matter what," said Silverman, "and it is a show about walking through Hell and getting to the other side. [When] we find ourselves on the other side, that's amazing."

Other first-nighters included Joel Grey, Norbert Leo Butz, Michelle Federer, Laura Osnes, Adam Gwon, Susan Blackwell, Patti Murin, Adam Chanler-Berat, Lilli Cooper, Courtney Reed, Adam Jacobs, Cass Morgan, Andrew Rannells, Adriane Lenox, Elaine Joyce, Neil Simon, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Daniel Palladino, Joshua Harmon, Carolyn McCormick, Byron Jennings, Terrence McNally, David West Read and Michael Park.

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)