Porgy and Bess

Monday, August 26 th, 2019 at 00:08 am 

Porgy and Bess is by the Gershwins, Yay! It’s in what’s called a stirring new rendition. Now look, if you know Porgy and Bess, you probably know that it’s got wonderful songs like, ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So, Summertime, I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing’ etc. Okay, so that’s the good news. The second part of the good news is that Audra McDonald plays Bess and she’s got a terrific voice and is fun to watch. Norm Lewis from Les Miz plays Porgy, and David Alan Grier plays Sportin’ Life. There are some problems about it. First of all, believe it or not, I don’t know that I’d ever seen Porgy and Bess, because I don’t remember this being so upsetting, but I’m the person that always forgets that Bambi’s mother buys the farm, so forgive me. Purists didn’t necessarily like this either, because there apparently have been some liberties taken. My problem was it was uneven: there were great voices and not so great voices. My other problem is with Norm Lewis, whom I think has a perfectly acceptable voice, but I just think he’s too debonair; apparently when Sidney Poitier plays him, he plays that he can’t walk at all. So, you wanted him to be sort of — I don’t know how to say this politically correct, but you wanted him to be sort of more pathetic than he was in this one. In this you sort of felt like he walked basically with the same rolling gait that Sportin’ Life did. I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but it’s just uneven. The songs are great, Audra’s great, but it’s very long. It’s probably worth seeing, though I think they maybe spent all their money on Audra.  The scenery is ridiculous, I mean it’s just nothing at all. The costumes are passable. They clearly put their money where the voices are and the guy who plays Crown, Phillip Boykin. who probably would have made a better Porgy, but he’s terrific. He actually gets booed at the curtain call, and then raises his eyebrows and does a little girlish curtsy. He’s adorable, great voice. But it is uneven. I’ll give it three stars.