The Purple cast strikes a pose at the end of “Let’s Break It Down.” Photo by Katie Compton
The 2018 Purple Side show, “Code Purple: a Top Secret Musical,” takes the audience behind the cloak and dagger of top-secret espionage in a story of plucky heroes, dramatic villains and sharp suits. Over the course of the show, a couple of unlucky agents get caught up in a covert fight for the fate of the world.
The show opens to an overture reminiscent of such spy classics as “Mission Impossible.” The stage is backlit, allowing a silhouetted opening tableau consisting of acrobatic rolls, dance positions and hand-to-hand combat, all in silent coordination. By the end of the sequence, the figures assemble into significantly more casual poses in time for the lights to come up.
The opening scene depicts a hectic office building backed by a massive purple coat-of-arms. Shortly afterward, the opening number begins. The amassed, well dressed, secret agents break into song recounting the successes of the show’s agency, simply called A.G.E.N.C.Y., led by the confident and eloquent Director Hart, played by Amber Hayes.
Following the number, the ensemble returns to daily work, and the audience meets the main character. Portrayed by Zack Tarwater, Agent Valentine is the son of Director Hart and seems to be nothing more than a bumbling desk clerk. After botching his last mission by befriending Fidel Castro, Valentine is the agency laughing stock.
Valentine, despite being clumsy and oafish, dreams of being a hero among the other spies. His childlike wonder is expressed through his soulful solo, “Undercover Me.”
Enter two upper level agents, touting their recent acquisition of a top secret russian microchip of unknown function. Hart entrusts Valentine with the safe delivery of the chip with the help of Agent Percy.
Percy, played by Robin Stevens, is a tough, no-nonsense agent with nothing but disdain for Valentine. The unlikely duo end the scene on their way to the drop point, Café du Vache.
As the lights go down, the audience is whisked to a far more nefarious setting. Behind a backlit screen, a silhouetted figure waxes poetic about his supreme evil. At the height of this monologue the figure raises two extended thumbs proclaiming his name to be Leon Goldman. The villain, portrayed by Blake Anthony Lovelace, is after the microchip in order to finish his mind-controlling doomsday device.
The tittering, dramatic Goldman is aided by yet another sinister force. A double agent appropriately named Eyepatch has been masquerading as a janitor at A.G.E.N.C.Y. in order to gain intel from the operatives. The villains’ dynamic is cemented in the song “Where Would You Be?”
Meanwhile, at the Café du Vache, Percy and Valentine await the arrival of a mysterious woman in green who will take the microchip. Among the excited, prancing waiters, Goldman, poorly disguised, slips into the cafe unnoticed.
After a short dance interlude from the waiters, Goldman and Eyepatch spring their trap. Enter Eyepatch disguised as a magician. After a few ineffectual magic tricks, Valentine is effectively entranced, allowing eyepatch and Goldman to make a not-so-subtle escape, stage left.
The debriefing at A.G.E.N.C.Y. is about as pleasant as any audience member might expect. With the chip having fallen into the clutches of Goldman, Valentine and Percy are disgraced. What’s more, Director Hart reveals that she and Goldman are, in fact, siblings. Being the ignored, mistreated brother led Leon to finally snap.
After their defeat, the agency rallies around the showstopper, “Let’s Break it Down.” The operatives set off in pursuit of the fiends, leaving the crestfallen heroes alone. The duo set out on their own pursuit in a last ditch attempt to regain honor and respect.
After a dramatic entrance, the agents of A.G.E.N.C.Y are too late, as the villainous pair have completed the mind control device, and it’s ready for a field test. A test which results in a hypnotic song and dance number, “The Puppeteer.” Goldman and Eyepatch direct the zombified agents in a synchronized dance.
Percy and Valentine arrive to the scene midway through the mind control fiasco. At first, the pair seems powerless to stop the antagonists, with Percy immediately caught up in Goldman’s thrall.
Valentine is left to stand alone against his uncle, protected by his serendipitous tinfoil hat. Goldman still slyly tempts Valentine with the promise of a better life under his tutelage “a perfect family” with him.
In a moment of clarity, Valentine realizes that he doesn’t have to prove himself as anything more than himself to his family, both biological and found in the agency. And with one fateful gunshot, Agent Valentine destroys Goldman’s machine.
The agents laud Percy and Valentine as heroes, ending the show in a full ensemble medley of previous songs in the show. Goldman and Eyepatch are taken to jail, and while Valentine remains a rookie, things look bright for the young spy