So it's not the same old song and dance.
After all, "The Color Purple" -- a musical adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel, which later became an Oscar-nominated 1985 movie -- deals with some mighty dark themes, from domestic violence to spiritual crisis to racism in the segregated South from 1909 to 1949.
But there's a reason why "The Color Purple" -- which, starting Tuesday, kicks off The Smith Center's Broadway Las Vegas series with an eight-performance Reynolds Hall run -- bills itself as "The Musical About Love."
Despite the show's "dark corners," it's "really a story about triumph and hope," says Gary Griffin, who's directed every incarnation of the production, starting with a 2004 workshop, followed by a successful Broadway run and subsequent national tours.
"The challenge was to play to those values and find that core spirit" illuminating the story's dark moments, Griffin says.
"Someone could make the case that we should have opened with a lighter, more fun-loving, fluffier kind of show," acknowledges Myron Martin, Smith Center president, who saw "The Color Purple" on Broadway.
But if The Smith Center "is the living room of Las Vegas, there was something about 'The Color Purple' that felt right to me" as the center's inaugural Broadway musical, Martin says.
In addition to its appeal to a diverse audience, "it isn't exactly a show a hotel-casino would have booked," he points out.
But it is a show with an instant-recognition title and an impressive pedigree.
Beyond Walker's original novel, there's a script by Pulitzer- and Tony-winning playwright Marsha Norman (" 'night, Mother"). The wide-ranging musical score -- with elements of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues -- teamed Grammy-winner Brenda Russell with Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.
And, lest we forget, one of the show's Broadway producers was none other than Oprah Winfrey, who earned an Oscar nomination for her big-screen debut (as the strong-willed Sofia ) in the Steven Spielberg-directed movie version.
All of which adds up to "a built-in interest in the story and love for the story," Griffin says. "It's a living version of the piece."
A living version that's evolved over time, the director adds.
Unlike the "very big" Broadway production, "the show has become simplified" during its cross-country tours, Griffin notes. "It's more honest. The texture of the show feels truer."
Its continued success proves that it doesn't take huge spectacle to move audiences, he contends. "It just takes recognizable human moments."
Griffin likens directing different incarnations of "The Color Purple" to "working on a great piece of literature -- there's always more to discover," he says. "It reveals new things over time."
Just as the show reveals its characters through time.
We meet protagonist Celie (played by Ashley Ware) when she's 14 -- and pregnant, for the second time, by her stepfather. He marries Celie off to the abusive widower Mister, who cuts off contact between Celie and her beloved sister Nettie.
Yet despite all the trauma and humiliation Celie endures, Ware's performance also focuses on "finding the joy in Celie," she explains -- especially her capacity "to love and be loved."
Reacting to the show, some audience members have told her, " 'I didn't realize Celie was so funny' or that Celie could be happy," Ware says.
But it's just a consequence of playing a three-dimensional character, she observes.
After all, "in life, we go through ups and downs," Ware says, adding that despite Celie's anguished experiences, "most of us are not depressed all the time or happy all the time."
Before taking over as Celie, Ware performed as an ensemble member and understudied the part -- along with two other roles.
As an understudy, "you learn it a certain way," she notes.
But when Ware got the chance to make the role of Celie her own, Griffin "made it custom-made for me," she explains. "He's such a great director, he allows you to try new things -- as long as it keeps the integrity of the story."
That's as it should be, in Griffin's view, because "The Color Purple" is "a little bit fitted around the leading lady," he says. (Among those who have played Celie onstage: La Chanze , who won a Tony for her Broadway portrayal, and third-season "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino, who played Celie on Broadway and in Los Angeles.)
Overall, the musical "tells a pretty tough story," Martin comments. "But I find it to be uplifting."
And so, Ware hopes, will Las Vegas audiences.
"I hope they have an open mind -- and an open heart," she says. If they do, "they won't leave the same as when they came in."
Contact reporter Carol Cling at email@example.com or 702-383-0272.