Friday, June 30, 2006

Nunn Better: Porgy and Bess Set for London Revival


Nunn Better: Porgy and Bess Set for London Revival

Nearly 71 years ago, George and Ira Gershwin's greatest masterpiece Porgy and Bess made its debut on the Broadway stage with Todd Duncan and Anne Wiggins Brown in the titular roles. Now, one of the theatrical world's greatest impresarios and directors, Trevor Nunn, is moving forward with a West End revival, transforming what is typically presented as a 4-hour opera into a 2-and-a-half hour musical. Nunn's Porgy and Bess will premiere at London's Savoy Theatre on November 9.

The estate of the Gershwins has provided its blessing to the transformation, which uses the 1925 source novel for the newly revised book. But the grandeur of this $5 million piece will be readily apparent with a company of 60, including 40 cast members and a 20-piece orchestra. In 1993, Nunn previously directed a full-length Porgy and Bess for Glyndebourne Opera; that version was captured on DVD (picture includes link).

Before the latest revival is even cast, producers are already talking about a Broadway version sometime during the 2007-08 theatrical season. The last time Porgy and Bess played on the Great White Way, it garnered 6 Tony nominations and was awarded the 1977 Tony for Most Innovative Production of a Revival.

As much as I've adored the music from Porgy and Bess, I've never had the opportunity to see it live on stage. I'm excited by the prospect of finally seeing what was -- in its time -- one of theatre's most revolutionary productions, in this case for its groundbreaking portrayal of African-Americans.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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