The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess – on Broadway

January 25, 2012

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The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Music by George Gershwin

Lyrics by Ira Gershwin

Porgy and Bess

This has been one very talked about, heatedly debated and somewhat controversial revival – really re-working of “Porgy and Bess”.  This production takes the Gershwin’s original opera and changes it – both book and musically to make it into a theatre piece.  How well they’ve done it – or really if they even should have done it – is a matter of high feeling – on both sides.

I will say out front – I’m a fan of the opera “Porgy and Bess’ – but despite that, I was very interested and excited about the piece being re-imagined.  The music is so lovely and has some really interesting characters.  In the opera, which can feel very long in some places and the overwhelming-ness of the score can be a bit much for people – so I thought I streamlined version, with a bit more book and maybe a bit less full-opera-chorus would bring this American classic to a whole new range of people.  I was really behind the idea and looked forward to seeing it.

But once I did, I found itself stranded in a middle zone of part-opera/part-Broadway, and in the end, not enough of either.  The singers are all first-rate…but an example of the middle-ground-problem – the women sang their pieces in a very ‘operatic style’ but the guys sang like Broadway performers…and the two styles did not go well together.

So while I can’t whole-heartedly recommend it – if you are at all interested, do go and experience it.   And like I said, they can all sing – every last one of them…and the score, though a bit messed with, is still chock-full of that beautiful Gershwin music.   This will be a production that is talked about for years to come – and it’s always  fun when you can chime in on something like this armed with first-hand experience.

Richard Rodgers Theatre
226 West 46th Street
between Broadway and 8th Avenue
Now through September 30th

Filed Under: Entertainment, NYC, Theatre

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