I am not an opera fan by any means, however, "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess" totally captivated me from beginning to end! I have a new appreciation for opera, at least Broadway style. "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess," directed by Diane Paulus, tells the classic story by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and is set in Charleston’s fabled Catfish Row, where the beautiful "Bess" struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the only one who can rescue her is the crippled but 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.
It may be hard to believe, but this was my first time ever seeing Audra McDonald in a show, and now, I am a fan of hers, a big one. I think she has a stellar voice and acting skills. She embodied "Bess" and when she sang, a hush fell over the audience. Audra sounded great on her solo number "Leaving for the Promised Land."
Because I had never seen Audra McDonald in a show before, what initially excited me about seeing "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess" tonight were two actors, Norm Lewis and Joshua Henry. I first came to know Joshua when I interviewed him when he was in "The Scottsboro Boys." I loved him in that show and I adored him in "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess!" He was terrific as "Jake." It was so delightful to hear him on "It Takes a Long Pull."
I was originally introduced to Norm Lewis by an old co-worker of mine, who told me what a talent he was. I finally had the honor of seeing his talent for myself in "Sondheim on Sondheim" and "Les Miserables," so prior to tonight, I already knew Norm Lewis was an extraordinary talent! Tonight, I was reminded of why he is a leading man on Broadway! His vocal quality is out of this world! If he sang the phone book, I would go watch or listen to him. When Norm sings, especially his solo numbers, the theatre was silent. I loved hearing Norm sing "I Got Plenty of Nothing" and "I'm on My Way." In addition to his voice, Norm's acting skills are top notch! Norm does an outstanding job portraying "Porgy." His crippled leg was fantastically created and Norm should be applauded for doing eight shows a week with that leg alone. Norm has such a gift as an actor that "Porgy" is really brought to life.
As wonderful as it was to hear Norm and Audra sing solos, it was that much better when they sang together! They triumphed on "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" and "I Loves You, Porgy."
In addition to Norm and Audra, the rest of this amazing cast helped bring this show to life. David Alan Grier was quite enjoyable as "Sporting Life." Nikki Renee Daniels was brilliant as "Clara," especially when she opened the show with "Summertime." I also loved NaTasha Yvette Williams as "Mariah." She was divine in the role and really kept me focused on her throughout the show. Bryonha Marie Parham also caught my attention as "Serena." She had a beautiful, beautiful voice! The remainder of the cast delighted me! They all sounded great and added a lot to the show.
While Norm and Audra are the focus of the show, every single person in this show is necessary to make this story believeable! I had a really great time at "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess" and I feel if you are looking for a show that has lots of talent, then I would check out "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess" at The Richard Rogers Theatre in NYC (226 West 46th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!