The new two-and-a-half hour musical version of the opera which opened on 9 November 2006 (previews from 25 October), 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 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.
The show, which opened on 10 October 2006 (previews from 23 September), marks Norris' and leading lady Anna Maxwell Martin’s musical debuts. Maxwell Martin as Sally Bowles is joined in the cast by James Dreyfus as the Emcee, Sheila Hancock as Fraulein Schneider and Broadway’s Michael Hayden as Cliff, a part he previously played in 1999 in Sam Mendes’ staging (first seen at the Donmar Warehouse) at New York’s Studio 54.
Cabaret turns Weimar Berlin into a dark and sexually charged haven of decadence, its morally ambiguous inhabitants determined to keep up appearances as the real world - outside the sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for the chaos of war. Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood and the play by John Van Druten, it has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Cabaret premiered on Broadway on 1966 and in 1972 was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Michael York as Cliff and Joel Grey as the Emcee.
- by Caroline Ansdell