"That she could sing, we knew," the 80-year-old wrote in Friday's edition. "But that she could act, and act so wonderfully, so tenderly, so touchingly, so effortlessly - that came as a surprise."
Barnes, who began his career as a critic in England in 1956, served as the New York Times' drama critic from 1967-77 and the New York Post's since 1978, confesses in his review:
"I feel a lot in the theater - I wouldn't stick in this business if I didn't - but usually I don't cry. With this performance, I found tears running down my cheeks... If you haven't seen The Color Purple, see it now; if you have seen it, see it again. Something extraordinary is happening at the Broadway Theatre that is not to be missed."
It doesn't get much better than that. Jennifer Hudson might have a new person to be jealous of.
Want more American Idol?
Sign up for our daily newsletter and receive the latest tv news delivered to your inbox for free!