One of 2012’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals is opening next week at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess won the Tony Award in 2012 for best musical revival and is now on a 14-state tour. It opens Tuesday, Jan. 7 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 12. The original four-hour opera has been condensed into a two-and-a-half-hour musical for the revival.
Porgy and Bess is a love story, looking at life in Charleston’s Catfish Row in the early 1920s, where the beautiful Bess struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the only one who can rescue her is the courageous Porgy.
Threatened by her formidable former lover Crown and the seductive enticements of the colorful troublemaker Sporting Life, Porgy and Bess’ relationship evolves into a deep romance that triumphs as one of theater’s most exhilarating love stories. Backed by a 23-piece orchestra, the touring musical includes such classic songs as Summertime, I Got Plenty o’ Nothin’ and It Ain’t Necessarily So.
Porgy and Bess first premiered at the Colonial Theatre in Boston on Sept. 30, 1935.
Broadway performances followed featuring a cast of classically trained African-American singers – a daring and visionary artistic choice at the time.
The original Porgy and Bess played a role in desegregating the National Theatre’s audience in 1936, at least for a time.
Todd Duncan, who played the original Porgy, and Anne Brown, the original Bess, led the entirely black cast to strike and force the inclusion of African-Americans in the audience.
Michael Strunsky, Ira Gershwin’s nephew and trustee of his estate, said the musical version was conceived to bring the story to a broader audience beyond opera.
“This is a fabulous story, and it’s punctuated by George Gershwin’s just unbelievably creative music,” Strunsky said in a recent interview. “It’s a piece that has been under-appreciated, I think, even right from the genesis in 1935.”
Diane Paulus, the artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, adapted the original opera for the Broadway revival with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and Obie Award-winning composer Diedre Murray.
Strunsky said their changes have helped the show as a theatrical piece to capture the audience.
Before the show, the Inner City Youth Getting There Inc. will give a free musical presentation in the Dreyfoos Hall lobby at 7:15 p.m., on Jan. 7 and the University of Florida’s Official All-Male a cappella Group, The Staff will do the same on Jan. 11.
Tickets to the show start at $25. This Kravis On Broadway presentation is sponsored by Ari Rifkin and Adele Siegel. Order online at kravis.org, or by phone at 561-832-7469 or 800-572-8471.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.