PLAYBILL PICKS: Timeless Love Affairs on Stage

By Robert Simonson
13 Feb 2014

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis
Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Porgy and Bess

George and Ira Gershwin's classic American folk opera based on the play Porgy, by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, brought to life the denizens of Catfish Row and put into rhapsodic song the story of the crippled beggar Porgy and his love for the tempestuous addict Bess. Porgy and Bess' Boston premiere at the Colonial Theatre Sept. 30, 1935, presented the largest African-American cast ever assembled on a professional stage and was a watershed moment in the history of American drama in terms of the relationships explored in the musical form and in terms of the actors it employed. The Gershwin melodies of "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" and "I Loves You, Porgy" continue to pull at the hearts of audiences, all the way up to the 2012 Tony Award-winning revival.