USER (01Sep05): PORGY AND BESS First Night Review 31st August 2005 (cast may change during the run)
Porgy may boast of having “plenty o' nuthin',” but this New York production has plenty of everything. Porgy and Bess is the celebrated work by George and Ira Gershwin based on the DuBose and Dorothy Heyward novel. Set in South Carolina in the early 1930’s it features all the well known songs including the popular favourite Summertime.
The tale is the moving story of Porgy and the residents of Charleston’s famed Catfish Row. Bess, a woman with a disreputable history tries to break free from her brutish lover Crown after he becomes wanted for murder. The only person willing to overlook her past and offer her shelter is the crippled Porgy. Their relationship is threatened by the disapproval of the townspeople, the presence of her old drug supplier Sportin' Life (Everett Suttle) - and the threatened return of Crown (Justin Lee Miller).
It is an American masterpiece with the story entwining pride, prejudice, pathos and passion in the jazz and blues influenced score superbly conducted by John Lopiccolo. The company are full of glorious singers with the strong voiced Milo Morris as Porgy and the beautiful award winning Audrey Du Bois as Bess.
With a fine melodic inventiveness some may class this as a folk opera or jazz drama or even a grand opera. Whatever it is, the work has as much compassion for the individual as found in Verdi’s operas, as much understanding of the human condition as in the works of Mozart and as much comprehension of folk spirit as Grieg.
Staged by Martha Clarke this costumed concert performance is a treat of choral singing, with outstanding individual vocal achievements. Don’t miss the UK tour of Porgy & Bess. – Audience Today magazine