“Porgy and Bess”

Savoy Theatre, London • 25 November 2006 • 7:30pm

“A new musical production by” George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin.
Adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn. Music adapted by Gareth Valentine. Choreography by Jason Pennycooke. With Clarke Peters (Porgy), Nicola Hughes (Bess), Cornell S. John (Crown), O.-T. Fagbenle (Sporting Life),…

It’s amazing that the opera that sometimes was accused to be a musical in disguise is now officially presented as a musical. Trevor Nunn has made the show shorter, has replaced the recitatives by spoken scenes taken either from the original novel, Porgy, by DuBose Heyward or from the non-musical play Heyward co-wrote with his wife Dorothy. Gareth Valentine has reduced the score for 20 musicians. And, of course, there is amplification.

The result, I have to say, is spectacular. The score shines throughout and benefits in places from the “lighter” treatment. Some pieces that never made it into the 1935 score, like a funky prologue, are wonderful discoveries. The staging is magnificent, with superb visuals and great choreography. Good performances from the cast and orchestra.

Another proof that, whether as an opera or as a musical, Porgy and Bess is truly a masterpiece of the musical theatre.

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