Previewed 17 July 2014, Opened 28 July 2014, Closed 23 August 2014 at the Open Air Theatre in London
A major revival of the Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in London in a new adaptation by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre L. Murray presented for a strictly limited season of just 43 performances.
Summertime, and the livin' is easy - Porgy and Bess is set in a poor black fishing community in the former slave state of South Carolina and is both a poignant love story, a parable of human aspiration and a political document of its time. Includes the classic numbers Summertime; I've Got Plenty o' Nuttin'; It Ain't Necessarily So; My Man's Gone Now; Bess, You Is My Woman Now; and I Loves You, Porgy. A powerful story of love and betrayal, it is now celebrated as a landmark piece of American theatre.
The cast features Rufus Bonds Jr as 'Porgy' and Nicola Hughes as 'Bess' with Phillip Boykin as 'Crown', Cedric Neal as 'Sportin' Life', Golda Rosheuvel as 'Serena', Sharon D Clarke as 'Mariah', Jade Ewen as 'Clara', Leon Lopez as 'Jake', Marvin Springer as 'Robbins', Alex Giannini as 'Detective' and Owain Gwynn as 'Policeman', along with David Albury, Angela M Caesar, Tyrone Huntley, George Ikediashi, Claudia Kariuki, Arthur Kyeyune, Oliver Lidert, Jay March, Tania Mathurin, Ellen O'Grady and Yemie Sonuga. Directed by Timothy Sheader with movement and choreography by Liam Steel, designs by Katrina Lindsay, lighting by Rick Fisher and sound by Nick Lindster.
Timothy Sheader's West End theatre directing credits include the Gershwin musical Crazy For You (Novello Theatre 2011) and the new musical Imagine This (New London Theatre 2008). The Gershwin's musicals include Lady, Be Good!, Crazy For You, An American in Paris, and Hershey Felder's George Gershwin Alone.
Written by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin presented in a newly adapted version by Suzan-Lori Parks, with adapted score by Diedre L. Murray.
Porgy and Bess in London at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park with public previews from 17 July 2014, opening on 28 July 2014 and closing on 23 August 2014.
Porgy and Bess 2006
Previewed 25 October 2006, Opened 9 November 2006, Closed 5 May 2007 at the Savoy Theatre in London
The Masterpiece - Reborn as a Musical! Since its original performance in New York in 1935, George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess has gone on to achieve unparalleled fame. Now London audiences can enjoy this major London West End revival of this classic musical opera in a new slimmed-down version by the acclaimed director Trevor Nunn and featuring new orchestrations by Gareth Valentine.
The cast features Clarke Peters and Nicola Hughes in the title roles of 'Porgy' and 'Bess' along with Cornell S John as 'Crown', O-T Fagbenle 'Sporting Life', Dawn Hope 'Serena', Melanie E Marshall 'Maria', Lorraine Velez 'Clara', Edward Baruwa 'Jake', Des Coleman 'Mingo', Sam Douglas 'Detective', Harry Ditson 'Mr Archdale/Coroner' and Maurey Richards 'Peter' (casting subject to change). Clarke Peters' West End credits include the Louis Jordan musical Five Guys Named Moe.
Porgy and Bess has been extensively reworked and re-orchestrated to draw more deeply on the story's Southern roots and injected with renewed verve and pace. This fresh interpretation of Porgy and Bess brings to the Savoy Theatre in London one of the biggest companies in the West End - a 60-strong company, with 40 in the cast and a 20-piece orchestra in this brand new £3 million musical production specially adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn.
"Trevor Nunn's foot-tappingly magnificent adaptation of the classic Gershwin opera at the Savoy Theatre - is a delight for the eyes, the cars and the brain... David Braun-White's musical direction does full justice to the sublime lyrics and all the principals sing like angels... The chemistry between Hughes and Peters is electrifying... a smouldering, smoky and magnificent, production." The Sunday Telegraph
"Until now, George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy And Bess has been labelled an opera, with all the appropriate operatic accoutrements: that is, it lasted a lengthy four hours and was staged for the music elite with an orchestra of 80 at Covent Garden or Glyndebourne, where tickets cost a small fortune. Well, Trevor Nunn's glorious, slimmed-down, musical-theatre makeover proves, to borrow a phrase from one of the show's many beautifully drawn characters, that 'it ain't necessarily so'. Squeezed to less than three hours and on to the Savoy stage with the score reorchestrated for mere actors and a measly 20 musicians, it's now a much more approachable piece. Purists will doubtless turn up their noses at such violations as the opening lullaby Summertime being sung in a lower register than in the opera, but that is because it has to be performed by an actor as opposed to an opera singer, and sung eight times a week, as a West End musical schedule demands... Gone, too, is much of the strung-out recitative, in favour of splendidly salty dialogue. The result is a wonderfully absorbing love story, filled with passionate, moody music that spans Negro spirituals, gospel and jazz... In Nunn's terrifically atmospheric staging, his magnificently drilled, astonishingly accomplished company sing and dance up a storm. The songs are all the more touching and tender for abandoning operatic formality." The Mail on Sunday
The director and adapter Trevor Nunn on his production of Porgy and Bess: "I've directed Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at Glyndebourne, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and in a production filmed by Primetime television. I think the work is a masterpiece, I never tire of listening to it, and each time I work on it I discover new things in the richly varied score... For several years now, I have been discussing with my friends in the Gershwin family, the possibility of developing a version of the piece that in vocal range and structure would have the quality of music theatre rather than of opera. The opera has already been fully revealed as a work of genius and, whatever we do in this version, the opera will still be there in all its hugely demanding glory, ready to be performed anywhere in the world... We decided to use the structure of what in the trade is known as 'a book musical'. That means that, instead of the narrative being communicated through relatively slow moving recitative, we have scenes as you do in a play. So the language, taken from Heyward's original novel Porgy and his stage play of the same name, can be quite a lot more complex than the words that were selected to be set to the music, but the playing time is shorter. The other changes are to the key structure, with the aim of giving us a raw 'street' sound, so we should hear a scene very differently."
Porgy and Bess in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 25 October 2006, opened on 9 November 2006 and closed on 5 May 2007.