The new two-and-a-half hour musical version of the opera stars Clarke Peters and Nicola Hughes in the title roles, leading a 40-strong cast that also features Cornell John (as Crown), Dawn Hope (Serena) and OT Fagbenle (Sportin’ Life). The new musical has a score specially adapted by Gareth Valentine.
Originally a novel by DuBose Heyward, Porgy and Bess is set in 1912 South Carolina, around Charleston's Catfish Row, and centres on cripple Porgy who offers shelter to Bess, recently broken free from her brutish lover.
Heyward collaborated with George and Ira Gershwin to create the jazz opera – featuring now-classic songs such as "Summertime", "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" and "It Ain't Necessarily So" – which premiered in 1935 and was made into a 1959 screen version starred Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. In 1986, Trevor Nunn previously directed the opera at Glyndebourne with Willard White and Cynthia Haymon.
The £3 million production is directed by Nunn – who won this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Director for his work on the musical as well as Tom Stoppard’s play Rock 'n' Roll - and designed by John Gunter. It’s presented by Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Howard Panter for Ambassador Theatre Group and Tulbart Productions. Amongst its other accolades, Porgy and Bess was nominated, controversially, for Best New Musical in this year’s Olivier Awards.
- Caroline Ansdell