Thursday, February 27, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report - A Review of Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Feb 26th 2014 Performance

Porgy and Bess, an American Operetta
A Review of Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Feb. 26th 2014 Performance

From:  Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By:  Joanne Quinn-Smith  |  Feb. 27th 2014

Some would like to call Porgy and Bess a Folk Opera, I prefer the work operetta. Even though there was serious content about a close knit group in Charleston's fabled Catfish Row, there still was light hearted banter at times and light footed music also. It might also be called a folk opera because of the cultural and political milieu when the residents of Catfish Row refer to the sheriff as "Boss."
Alicia Hall Moran as Bess
Nathaniel Stampley as Porgy
(photo courtesy: Michael J. Lutch) 

“The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess” was first on the stage in 1935. Now the Tony award winning musical graces the Benedum Stage from February 25 thru March 2, 2014.

A musical playwright and composer can of course never go wrong opening any production with “Summertime,” one of the most recorded songs of all time.

Accompanied by a lush 23-piece orchestra, this re-envisioned Broadway production includes such legendary songs as “Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” and “I Got Plenty of Nothing.”

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess 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 courageous Porgy. Porgy and Bess's relationship is threatened by her volatile lunk of a lover, Crown, and the seductive narcotic enticements of the dandy vice purveyor Sporting Life. The role of Sporting Life was originally developed by Sammy Davis Jr. but Kingsley Leggs and the ensemble reproduce a movie moment with “It Ain't Necessarily So."

Porgy and Bess’ unconventional romance triumphs as one of theater’s most exhilarating love stories.

Kingsley Leggs as Sporting Life
(photo courtesy: Michael J. Lutch)
The power couple in the musical are young parents Jake and Clara, played with warmth and strength by Pittsburgh native David Hughey and Ms Ali. Jake is a fisherman and captain of the Sea Gull. He is willing to brave any danger to provide for his wife Clara. Jake believes with hard work, he can help his son go to college, but he's also part of a testosterone-fueled culture where men are judged by their muscle, and gambling and drinking are expected among peers. He leads the ensemble in the only half-joking "A Woman Is a Sometime Thing." But it makes no matter what scene he is in David Hughey commands the stage each time in duets and ensembles. His tall muscular frame is almost anachronistic in a musical. But he manages to create exaggerated movements reminiscence of a panther and the audience has a hard time keeping their eyes off his majestic presence. You could certainly see this at the end of the production when he and Sporting Life receive the most applause. Sumayya Ali's version of "Summertime," will haunt you long after you leave the theatre.

When it was introduced on Broadway in 1935, "Porgy and Bess" was a revelation not only for its depiction of a close-knit black enclave in the South, but for its mix of musical genres.

Director Diane Paulus and writer Suzan-Lori Parks have revived the classic folk opera of American theater. With all of its cultural stereotypes, still it brings a powerhouse production to a very receptive 21st Century audience.

Additional Performances at the Benedum Center:
Thursday, Feb 27th  |  7:30 PM
Friday, Feb 28th  |  8 PM
Saturday, Mar 1st  |  2 PM  and  8 PM
Sunday, Mar 2nd  |  1 PM  and  6:30 PM

Written By: Joanne Quinn-Smith
Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster, blogger, author and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher. Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. She is a grandmother and great grandmother, an unlikely trendsetter for online journalism and broadcasting.

Joanne is internationally known as the “Get Your Google On” Gal, but better known as Techno Granny™ to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide. Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation that represents the new second generation of World Wide Web interactions, known in technology circles as Web 2.0. JQS is the online publisher of, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities.

Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter,,
(c) 2014

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