By Karen Leigh
Updated May 25, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Three years after winning American Idol, Fantasia (she dropped Barrino long ago) steps into the Oprahfied musical version of Alice Walker’s 1982 book, The Color Purple. As the tragic Celie — who endures incest, beatings, and teen pregnancies — the star lands every line and hits all the right notes. But she’s cold and robotic, and never becomes the sprawling show’s much-needed emotional touchstone. Her rich, suitably scratchy voice is one saving grace: By the time Celie finds salvation with the bombastic ballad ”I’m Here,” you’ll be glad Fantasia is…but you’ll also wish she’d go back to making pop music. 2005 version: C+, 2007 version: C

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