Trevor Nunn’s much-anticipated new version of the Gershwins’ ground-breaking jazz opera Porgy and Bess premiered last night (9 November 2006, previews from 25 October) at the West End’s Savoy Theatre (See News, 30 Jun 2006). Nunn has reworked and adapted the original into a two-and-a-half hour musical, with music 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.

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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 directed the opera at Glyndebourne with Willard White and Cynthia Haymon.

In Nunn’s new £3 million musical production, Clarke Peters and Nicola Hughes take the title roles in a 40-strong cast that also features Cornell S John (as Crown), Dawn Hope (Serena) and OT Fagbenle (Sportin’ Life). The 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.

For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand at the Savoy Theatre and at the post-show party at Floridita to hear what people had to say about Porgy and Bess on opening night. Our TV interviewees include: Trevor Nunn, Clarke Peters, Nicola Hughes, Cornell S John, OT Fagbenle and first night guests Richard O’Brien and Neil Pearson. Also dropping in on opening night were Patrick Swayze (currently playing Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre), Sinitta and Charles Aznavour (See Today’s 1st Night Photos).

- by Terri Paddock