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This past December, I had the pleasure of seeing the revival of Porgy and Bess on Broadway staring Norm Lewis, Audra Mcdonald, and David Alan Grier. Altered and slightly re-imagined as it was, the revival of Porgy and Bess was to my content. It had been playing in Boston before it was moved to Broadway. Porgy And Bess is widely renowned as the All American classic folk Opera by Gershwin, and this performance lived up to its expectations. Opening with the slow, widely recognized Summertime, the show opens up revealing a slice of life in the fictional southern town of Catfish row. Being an opera, there is very minimal book and the songs flow smoothly from one to another.
Every type of vibe can be found in the songs of Porgy and Bess. From the beginning, themes can be heavy, dealing with poverty, rough living, and death. However the songs that bring out these emotions are captivating and beautiful. For example, “My Man’s Gone Now”, performed just in scene 2, will immediately start pulling the heartstrings, putting the ensemble of the show and the audience in a state of grieving. Songs like “A Woman is a Sometime Thing” and “I Got Plenty O Nuttin” can have you rolling around laughing in your chair while “It Ain’t Necessarily So”, sung by David Alan Grier, will have your feet tapping away.
Not all diehard fans of this classic are happy with the alterations done to the book and some of the compositions. While the work is re-imagined, its messages and ideas are conveyed all the same, and as the listener you are put right in the midst of Catfish Row to witness an unforgettable story.