Monday, January 30, 2012

Gypsy and Porgy and Bess

Watched Gypsy in school last Thursday. A very engaging student production. Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents. Mother Rose was hungry for stardom for her daughters. When the older one June eloped, the younger one Louise bore the brunt of maternal attention until she gained fame as a stripper and renamed herself Gypsy Rose Lee. The musical also bore witness to the fall of vaudeville and the rise of burlesque.

Then on Sunday, with TB I watched The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, directed by alumnus Diane Paulus, and adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray from the original folk opera by George Gershwin, DuBose, Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin. Crippled Porgy took Bess in after her man Crown killed someone and had to flee. Crown returned to claim his woman, and Porgy killed him after a struggle. I have not watched the original, but was told by a colleague that the adaptation cut a few of Porgy's arias, and so shifted the attention to Bess, who was also given a more sympathetic treatment.

Audra McDonald sang Bess superbly, though her operatic singing did not quite gel, to my ears, with Norm Lewis' musical theater singing as Porgy. David Alan Grier was a slick Sporting Life, who succeeded finally in tempting Bess to escape Catfish Row for the bright lights of New York City. Phillip Boykin played Crown with real menace. He was the force of chaos in the tight fishing village. Of all the songs, "Summertime," "A Woman Is a Sometime Thing" and "My Man's Gone Now" were sung most memorably.

No comments: