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Theatre / Violet

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Violet is a 1997 musical developed by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Brian Crawley (lyrics/book), based on the short story "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts. Lauren Ward originated the title role. Violet won the Drama Critics' Circle Award and Lucille Lortel Award as Best Musical. The revised 2014 Broadway production starred Sutton Foster as Violet. The musical follows the bus trip of a young disfigured woman, as she leaves her family's farm in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, seeking healing from a televangelist in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Previously to being made into a musical, Doris Betts's short story was adapted into a 1981 short film, also called Violet. Not to be confused with the video game by the same name.

It provides examples of:

  • Deep South: Violet travels from North Carolina, through Tennessee and Arkansas, to Oklahoma.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Violet ends up with one, even if it isn't the one she originally hoped for.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: We learn the story of Violet's disfigurement through the flashbacks.
  • Facial Horror: Violet's reason for traveling by bus to meet the televangelist.
  • Flashback: These occur regularly. Some characters (e.g., Young Violet, Father) appear only in flashbacks.
  • Folk Music: The song ("Water in the Well") that Young Violet sings just before the accident that left her disfigured.
  • The Gambler: Violet's father taught her to play Poker as a way to improve her math skills. Young Violet soon beats her father in the game, and Violet beats Flick and Monty.
  • Healing Hands: Violet is seeking the healing touch of the televangelist.
  • Informed Deformity: Violet's scars are left to the audience's imagination, rather than being depicted through makeup or prosthetics. This pays off at the end where, after meeting the televangelist and having a massive emotional breakthrough, Violet believes her disfigurement has been healed through the power of faith, and some Wrong Genre Savvy audience members may believe it too. It's not until two scenes later that Monty informs her, and us, that it hasn't.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Violet and Flick attract some unfriendly attention while dancing at the Beale Street music hall in Memphis.
  • Missing Mom: Violet's mother died when she was young.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Violet comes to Flick's defense (as does Monty), and his attackers steal her suitcase as they flee.
  • Road Trip Plot: Violet travels by Greyhound bus from Spruce Pine, North Carolina, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, with several stops along the way.
  • Scars Are Ugly: Violet certainly feels her scar makes her ugly, and she has been traumatized by years of people shuddering and flinching from, and even mocking, her scar.