Last week, The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, my latest Broadway co-producing endeavor, opened on Broadway. It was a thrilling evening. The cast, including the extraordinary Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier, brought down the house and I have to admit, I enjoyed rubbing shoulders with some of my favorite celebs including Angela Lansbury, Paul Simon, Spike Lee, Christine Baranski, Candace, Bergen, Nathan Lane, Barbara Cook, Alan Alda, and many more, but enough shameless name dropping.
I’m pleased to report that the show is both a critical and financial success. This producing project has been a particularly fascinating experience because the Broadway revival stirred up a remarkable amount of controversy due to the significant revisions that were made to this historic masterpiece to make it accessible to a modern day Broadway audience.
You can see some of the drama played out here:
NY TIMES – STEPHEN SONDHEIM TAKES ISSUE WITH PORGY & BESS
NY TIMES – GERSHWIN HEIRS FLEX THEIR RIGHTS
I’m personally very pleased that this incredible piece of American artistic history has been revived (and revised) to give it a dynamic new life for a new generation of audiences who would otherwise not experience this beautiful and important work.
In my opinion, musical theater survives as a relevant and vibrant art form because it continues to be fresh and new. Unlike opera (where Porgy & Bess lived and was dying), Broadway embraces new forms and new approaches. I applaud the Gershwin family for braving the wrath of the purists to bring this sleek and stunning revival of their brilliant legacy, Porgy & Bess, to triumphant life on Broadway this season. Long may it run!