Early NY Times Review Of "Porgy & Bess" Revival Calls It An "Anxious And Confused Production"

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 1, 2011 4:16 AM
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Time flies... the revival opened last night at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, on its way to Broadway run in a few months, despite musical theater god Stephen Sondheim's majestic smack-down of this new revival, for what he feels are extreme reworkings of the original work (read his New York Times op-ed HERE).

Audra McDonald, David Alan Grier, Norm Lewis, Joshua Henry, Philip Boykin, and Nikki Renee Daniels star, with Pultizer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks' (Topdog/Underdog) and Tony Award-nominated director Diane Paulus (Hair) pulling the strings, so to speak.

As already noted, I'm undoubtedly intrigued and curious to see what this ends up looking, sounding and feeling like, and I will see it when it comes to Broadway, if not before.

The New York Times posted an early review this morning. The gist: Audra McDonald shines; the rest of the show, not-so much.

Here's a snippet:

But then there is Ms. McDonald, whose performance says: Yes, all these disparate fragments can be welded into a powerful single sensibility. Her scarred, shapely Bess is a heartbreaking mélange of audacity and trepidation. She is like a feral cat who has known years of abuse and is now frightened but tempted by the prospect of a real home. She also brings out the best in her leading men, Mr. Lewis (though her voice overpowers his in duets) and Mr. Boykin, whose characters speak to different longings in Bess. And she made me understand “Porgy and Bess” in a way I hadn’t before. So many of its lyrics have to do with love and home and life itself as provisional and fleeting. The uncertainty on Ms. McDonald’s face and the fear that pulses in her voice register the toll of such profound impermanence. This “Porgy and Bess,” which is scheduled to open on Broadway this winter, could be a genuine astonishment if everyone were on Ms. McDonald’s level. I’m afraid, though, that very few people walk on that exalted plane.

So there ya go... feel free to read the rest of that review HERE.

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  • Ashley | September 2, 2011 6:52 AMReply

    I don't care, I still want to see it!!

  • Zeus | September 1, 2011 4:58 AMReply

    Harry Belafonte has stated many times he very much dislikes "Porgy & Bess". He finds it stereotypical.

    That carries alot of weight coming from him.

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