The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess: Broadway, You Is My Venue Now

Trimmed and renamed, a great opera has shrunk to become a good show

Catfish Row gets some changes: Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis
Michael J. Lutch
Catfish Row gets some changes: Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis

Location Info


Richard Rodgers Theater

226 W. 46th St.
New York, NY 10036

Category: Theaters

Region: West 40s


The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
By George & Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, and Suzan-Lori Parks
Richard Rodgers Theatre
226 West 46 Street

No suave gentleman, either, is David Alan Grier as the story's nemesis, the urbane coke peddler Sportin' Life. Where most Sportin' Lifes have striven to cloak their menace in charm, Grier plays tough and sometimes downright nasty. This doesn't always jibe well with what remains of the original material, but it creates, as the best moments in all the minor roles create, a powerful sense that something meaningful and valuable is going on. When the chorus lights into a full-bodied piece of relatively unscathed Gershwin, or when McDonald's face is lit up by a new emotion, what's going on feels like greatness. The pity is that TGP&B, in the very act of striving to sustain Porgy and Bess's theatrical life, has felt the need to dissipate so much of what makes Gershwin's opera worth preserving.

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