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Porgy And Bess Has Arrived Amidst Controversy


This is not a review.

I’ll let far more erudite scholars than myself go into lengthy analyses about exactly what’s been trimmed out of the new revisal being called DuBose Heyward’s Porgy and Bess.

(They’re actually calling it The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, but I thought I’d give the co-author a little plug for the hell of it.)

I’ll also let them decide whether this version was really done because George Gershwin spoke to director Diane Paulus from beyond or because they just wanted a streamlined, accessible version to make money off of.

But I will say that the production scores best with three duets:

The tremulously touching “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” sung by the title characters (Broadway dependable Norm Lewis with a limp and a cane, and four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald in an earthy red dress and a facial scar, striving for respectability).

“What You Want With Bess?” with Bess unsuccessfully trying to fend off Crown (the imposing Phillip Boykin), who has burst onto the scene to stake his claim on her. The number — with hot-blooded intentions pouring out of every syllable — is riveting.

And “Bess, You Is My Woman,” sung by our title duo as a reaffirmation of their love among the ruins.

In all three duets, singing and acting fluidly combine to take you to the heart of the happy-dust-toking, volatile, longing, and feeling Catfish Row crew.

As for the rest … critics, take it away.

(Update: The Times review is a love letter to Audra, but says this version of the show “sometimes feels skeletal.”)

(Hmm. Maybe DuBose wouldn’t have wanted his name above the title!)