Buy Porgy and Bess album
Album lyrics:
  1. Introduction and Jasbo Brown Blues Introduction and Jasbo Brown Blues Video
  2. Summertime
  3. Oh, Nobody Knows When de Lord Is Gonna Call Oh, Nobody Knows When de Lord Is Gonna Call Video
  4. A Woman is a Sometime Thing
  5. Here Come de Honey Man; Porgy's Entrance Here Come de Honey Man; Porgy's Entrance Video
  6. Here Comes Big Boy! Here Comes Big Boy! Video
  7. Oh Little Stars, Little Stars Oh Little Stars, Little Stars Video
  8. Wake Up an' Hit It Out Wake Up an' Hit It Out Video
  9. Gone, Gone, Gone Gone, Gone, Gone Video
  10. Overflow Overflow Video
  11. Well, Well, Well, a Saucer-Burying-Setup Well, Well, Well, a Saucer-Burying-Setup Video
  12. My Man's Gone Now
  13. How de Saucer Stan' Now, My Sister? How de Saucer Stan' Now, My Sister? Video
  14. Leavin' for the Promise' Lan' 
  15. It Takes a Long Pull to Get There
  16. Mus' Be You Mens Forgot About de Picnic Mus' Be You Mens Forgot About de Picnic Video
  17. I Got Plenty o' Nuttin
  18. Lissen There, What I Tells You Lissen There, What I Tells You Video
  19. I Hates Yo' Struttin' Style I Hates Yo' Struttin' Style Video
  20. Mornin' Lawyer Mornin' Lawyer Video
  21. Dey's a Buckra Comin' Dey's a Buckra Comin' Video
  22. Buzzard Keep on Flying
  23. Lo, Bess, Goin' to the Picnic? Lo, Bess, Goin' to the Picnic? Video
  24. Bess, You Is My Woman
  25. Oh, I Can't Sit Down
  26. What's de Matter Wid You, Sister? What's de Matter Wid You, Sister? Video
  27. I Ain't Got No Shame I Ain't Got No Shame Video
  28. It Ain't Necessarily So
  29. Dance; Shame on All You Sinners Dance; Shame on All You Sinners Video
  30. Crown! Crown! Video
  31. What you want wid Bess
  32. Lemme Go, Hear dat Boat Lemme Go, Hear dat Boat Video
  33. Honey, dat's All de Breakfast I Got Time for Honey, dat's All de Breakfast I Got Time for Video
  34. Take Yo' Hands off Me, I Say Take Yo' Hands off Me, I Say Video
  35. Oh, Doctor Jesus
  36. Strawberry Woman; Honey Man; Crab Man Strawberry Woman; Honey Man; Crab Man Video
  37. Now de Time, Oh, Gawd Now de Time, Oh, Gawd Video
  38. I Love You, Porgy
  39. Why You Been Out on That Wharf So Long, Clara? Why You Been Out on That Wharf So Long, Clara? Video
  40. Oh, Doctor Jesus (Hurricane Scene)/Summertime (Reprise) Oh, Doctor Jesus (Hurricane Scene)/Summertime (Reprise) Video
  41. What Make You So Still, Bess; Oh, Dere's Somebody Knockin' What Make You So Still, Bess; Oh, Dere's Somebody Knockin' Video
  42. You Is a Nice Parcel of Christians You Is a Nice Parcel of Christians Video
  43. A Red-Headed Woman
  44. Jack's Boat Is de River Jack's Boat Is de River Video
  45. Clara, Clara Clara, Clara Video
  46. You Low-Lived Skunk You Low-Lived Skunk Video
  47. Summertime (Reprise) ; Death of Crown Summertime (Reprise) ; Death of Crown Video
  48. Wait For Us at the Corner, Al Wait For Us at the Corner, Al Video
  49. What Is Your Name? What Is Your Name? Video
  50. Oh, Gawd! They Goin' Make Him Look on Crown's Face! Oh, Gawd! They Goin' Make Him Look on Crown's Face! Video
  51. There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York
  52. Catfish Row Interlude Catfish Row Interlude Video
  53. Good Mornin', sistuh! Good Mornin', brudder! Good Mornin', sistuh! Good Mornin', brudder! Video
  54. It's Porgy Comin' Home It's Porgy Comin' Home Video
  55. Oh, Bess, Oh, Where's My Bess
  56. Bess Is Gone Bess Is Gone Video
  57. O Lawd, I'm On My Way

Porgy and Bess review

Porgy and Bess Review - Broadway musical

In March of 1936, the first touring production of Porgy and Bess made history at the National Theatre by being the theatre’s first fully integrated audience. Todd Duncan, the original Porgy and a Howard University music professor, along with Anne Brown, the original Bess and a Baltimore native, led the cast in a strike until management at the National Theatre agreed to temporarily set aside its segregation policy. It is fitting that the national tour of this American masterpiece is back at the National Theatre where theatre patrons have the opportunity to see it for one week only through December 29th.

It is interesting to note that Todd Duncan was one of the voice teachers of baritone Daniel Comegys who is my voice teacher. In a phone interview with Mr. Comegys I asked him to recall any stories he could share about Mr. Duncan. He mentioned that at the time he auditioned for the role of Porgy, Mr. Duncan was in an opera company in Manhattan. At the audition he sang a few arias for George Gershwin. Impressed, George Gershwin asked, “Will you be my Porgy”? Todd Duncan replied, “I don’t know. I’ll have to hear your music first.” He, of course said yes and went on to be the creator of the role of Porgy.

Based on DuBose Heyward’s novel “Porgy” and the play of the same name, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward, the story is set in the late 1930s in Charleston, South Carolina’s fabled Catfish Row. It deals with issues that are still very relevant today, including drugs, discrimination, and sexual and physical violence. In this story the beautiful, but troubled Bess (Alicia Hall Moran) tries to escape her abusive boyfriend Crown (Alvin Crawford) and a dope peddler named Sporting Life (Kingsley Leggs) who is constantly trying to get her high. In love for the first time, Porgy (Nathaniel Stampley), a disabled begger does everything in his power to try and rescue Bess.

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess is a musical theatre adaptation of the original opera. Making it more accessible for today’s audience, this fresh version takes much of the recitative and turns it into dialog. Also, the singers wear microphones which are not often found in operas. This production features a grand 23-piece orchestra which is large by Broadway standards, but small for opera. Some opera purists may wonder, why change perfection, while others understand that adapting Porgy and Bess into a musical theatre piece will entice audiences who otherwise might not go to the opera to enjoy this important story and glorious music. For me, as a trained singer, I appreciate both versions.

The entire cast does a fine job with all the songs, especially the most famous ones. Sumayya Ali as Clara holds her baby lovingly in her arms as she sings the mesmeric jazzy lullaby “Summertime.” Nathaniel Stampley as Porgy won me over with his rendition of “I Got Plenty of Nothing,” and Kingsley Leggs as Sporting Life and the ensemble had the audience in the palm of their hands with “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

Alicia Hall Moran makes for a believable and beautiful Bess. Under the skillful direction of Diane Paulus, she was most effective in expressing her characters inner turmoil through her nervous silence. For example, the moments when I would see her character tempted to take dope really had me pulling for her to succeed in not giving into temptation. Alicia Hall Moran is no stranger to the role of Bess. She was the Bess alternate and understudy in Broadway’s Tony-Winning production.

From the moment Nathaniel Stampley stepped upon the stage as Porgy, he had my full attention. In what I believe is the finest performance I have seen all year, Mr. Stampley embodies the role of Porgy. It is apparent his performance is focused. All the important elements of his character as it changes through the story shine through. Seeing his facial expression after Bess stayed with him at his place for the first time was priceless.

Alvin Crawford, the tallest member of the cast, is fierce in his role as Crown, a tough and mean dockworker who will do anything to keep Bess, even if it means violence. Being so tall and being so muscular, he has no trouble being intimidating.

The other bad guy in the story is Kingsley Leggs as Sporting Life who makes for a slimy, easy-to-dislike dope-peddler. With his well-dressed suit and bowler hat, Leggs is involved with many of the comical moments of the story. The song “I Hates Your Strutting Style” sung by Danielle Lee Greaves as Mariah brings much laughter over Sporting Life as she expresses how much she hates the fact the he is a drug dealer saying to him, “Nobody gonna be peddling that happy dust ’round my spot!”

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess is a winner! It is my conclusion that the idea to present the opera as a musical theatre piece is one that works very well. It is nice to know that the opera version of Porgy and Bess will always be there to produce, but I do like how this accessible version is exposing new audiences to the important story by DuBose Heyward and Gershwin’s timeless music. Porgy and Bess is indeed an American masterpiece. Will more operas be adapted into musical theatre versions?
Last Update:October, 24th 2023

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