Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" at the Ordway - A Review


Photo Credit: Francesco Carrozzini

I was invited to attend a blogger night for "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" at the Ordway.  The actual storyline for this American classic was unfamiliar to me, but I did know the famous song 'Summertime (and the livin' is easy)'.  Since this production was the winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, I was very curious to see this show and fill a hole in my theatrical knowledge.
 
The program noted that "Porgy and Bess" is the most-performed American opera of all time.  It was also interesting to read that this show had the first integrated audience in 1935 at Washington's National Theatre (when the cast refused to perform until black audience members were allowed to be seated).
 
The show is set in the late 1930's in Charleson, South Carolina.  Bess (Alicia Hall Moran) is a desperate woman who is struggling to break free from her past addictions.  Porgy (Nathaniel Stampley) is a "cripple" who seems to beg for a living...an unlikely pairing in my mind.
 
 
 
After seeing the show, I feel that people overemphasize the "romance" aspect of this piece.  I found the story rather heartbreaking, featuring a lonely man and a woman desperate to survive, without a lot of options.  It was not the "exhilarating love story" that I was expecting.
 
Having said that though, this production is extremely well done.  The singing is beautiful throughout the entire show, but I especially enjoyed the voices of Porgy (Nathaniel Stampley) and the haunting Strawberry Woman (Sarita Rachelle Lilly).  Another highlight was the dance number at the picnic.  Porgy and Bess is another one of those shows that takes you back to a different time and makes you "think".  We had plenty to talk about on the ride home, which is always a good thing!
 
If you are curious about this American theater classic, the Ordway's production of Porgy and Bess is an extremely well executed version of the show and runs through Sunday, March 30th, 2014.
 
For ticket information, visit Ordway.org
 
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
345 Washington Street
St. Paul, MN 55102

Ticket Office: 651.224.4222
Groups: 651.282.3111
 
 
I would like to thank the Ordway for providing these tickets.  A positive review was not required.




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