As a film, The Color Purple figured big-time in the launch of Oprah Winfrey's career. Oprah's come full circle, lending her name (and efforts as co-producer) to a gospel / R&B stage adaptation of the film—but that doesn't necessarily guarantee the show's appeal. The good Marsha Norman script centers on Celie (Jeannette Bayardelle), who beats some oppressive odds to realize her dreams in the Georgia of the 1930s (and Angela Robinson is sensational as Celie's mentor Shug Avery). But the spirit behind Gary Griffin's direction is kind of ingratiating—he often oversells some very good passages with too many visuals and lots of noise. I recommend this, but as used here, “recommend” takes a small “r.” Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple opens Dec. 2, courtesy of Broadway/San Diego at The Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave. Downtown. $17.50-$122.50. 619-570-1100, www.broadwaysd.com.
The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea: When the most feared warrior in the land vows he will force a princess to be his queen, she defiantly climbs the kingdom walls, braves a wild storm and heads into the dangerous forest to seek her freedom. Produced by The San Diego Repertory Theatre, the show is in previews and opens Dec. 3 at The Lyceum, 79 Horton Plaza Downtown. $39-$44. 619-544-1000, www.sdrep.com.
Backwater Blues: Toad Lake sucks ass, and gay wannabe star Arnie wants out—but love has other ideas. Through Nov. 26 at Compass Theatre, 3704 Sixth Ave. in Hillcrest. 619-688-9210, www.compasstheatre.com.
* Helen: The most beautiful woman in the world outwits her captors and is reunited with her husband after the Trojan War. Sundays through Dec. 14 at The Theatre, Inc., 899 C St., Downtown. $22-$25. 619-216-3016, www.thetheatreinc.com.
* 1984: Big Brother takes on a life of his own as he bends the will of an entire society. Through Nov. 29 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Ave. in Chula Vista. $13-$15. 619-422-7787, www.onstageplayhouse.org.
* Prometheus and Cyclops: A renegade god and a big fat guy with one eye weigh in on lotsa stuff. Through Dec. 14 at The Theatre, Inc., 899 C St., Downtown. $22-$25. 619-216-3016, www.thetheatreinc.com.
* Scrooge in Rouge: Dickens' A Christmas Carol is set in a Victorian music hall, complete with an array of quick-change artists and cross-dressers. Through Dec. 21 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. in University Heights. $31-$35. 619-220-0097, www.diversionary.org.
* The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!: The Grinch acts like a big poopface to everyone in Whoville until a little girl sets him straight. Through Dec. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre mainstage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. $21-$52. 619-23-GLOBE, www.oldglobe.org.
* Xanadu: Clio descends from the heavens to help Sonny spearhead the greatest invention of all time: the roller disco. Through Dec. 31 at La Jolla Playhouse's Mandell Weiss Theatre, 2910 La Jolla Village Blvd. in La Jolla. $42-$75. 619-550-1010, www.lajollaplayhouse.org.