This month our neighbor the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) brings the classic American opera Porgy and Bess back to its local roots. The opera made its world premiere at the Colonial Theatre in Boston in 1935. Now it’s been re-imagined as an energetic musical theater production. It’s still loaded with George Gershwin’s unforgettable jazz-influenced music (“Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “I Loves You, Porgy,”) but this version focuses on character and story, giving the show a more accessible feel for a contemporary audience.
Some of A.R.T.’s performers and creative teams stay right here at the Kendall Hotel during their onstage runs, so we couldn’t be more thrilled about all the great buzz this show is getting! The Boston Globe calls star Audra McDonald “a Bess for the ages.” The Harvard Crimson declares the new adaptation “shines.”
Porgy and Bess is set in the downtrodden Catfish Row section of Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1930s. Porgy, a disabled African-American beggar, falls in love with the beautiful but troubled Bess and tries to save her from Crown, her possessive and violent lover, and Sportin’ Life, the neighborhood drug dealer.
The original opera was occasionally criticized for taking too narrow a view of African-American culture, but the A.R.T. production has been brought up to date by Pulitzer Prize-winning African-American playwright Suzan Lori-Parks. The director is Diane Paulus, 2009 Tony award winner for Best Revival of a Musical (Hair). The cast is a mix of classically trained opera performers, gospel singers, and Broadway stars.
The reinterpretation of this iconic American opera is not to be missed! (And if you’re looking for an elegant and comfortable hotel to stay at while you’re in town, be sure and give us a call.)
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess runs through Sunday, Oct. 2 at the A.R.T.‘s Loeb Drama Center on Brattle Street in Cambridge. For tickets and information, visit the American Repertory Theater website or call 617-547-8300.