Classic Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess opens the UK leg of its world tour at Northampton this weekend, 28 June 2003). The American production has been globetrotting since 1992, playing in more than 400 cities on five continents to date. Following Northampton, it continues to 19 further UK venues, as well as Dublin, until 29 July 2003.

Originally a novel by DuBose Heyward, who later adapted it for the stage, Porgy and Bess tells the story of the cripple Porgy and the residents of Charleston's famed Catfish Row. Heyward later collaborated with George and Ira Gershwin to create the 1935 musical whose now-classic songs include "Summertime", "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" and "It Ain't Necessarily So".

The US-produced company - drawn from some of America's leading opera companies - are accompanied by a 14-piece orchestra. In the UK, Elizabeth Graham and La Rose Saxon alternate in the role of Bess, while Samuel Clark Stevenson and Cedric Cannon share the role of Porgy. The production is directed by Will Roberson and designed by James Fouchard, with costumes by Candace Donnelly and lighting by John McLain.

Following Northampton, Porgy and Bess visits Liverpool, Nottingham, Scarborough, Cork, Limerick, Dublin, Wimbledon, Croydon, Bournemouth, Lowestoft, Eastbourne, Southend, Buxton, Sheffield, Leicester, Birmingham, Norwich, Cardiff, Llandudno and Aberdeen before continuing its international schedule.

- by Hannah Kennedy