Is The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess Skipping Broadway?

This is an unexpected turn of events. Two nights ago, the much talked about The Gershwins' Porgy and Bes opened at American Repertory Theater in Boston. The New York Times sent theater critic Ben Brantley to review the show. This is odd for a simple reason: the paper doesn't usually review out of town engagements. While Brantley praised Audra McDonald for her performance as Bess, the review is undoubtedly a pan of the entire production. Brantley makes it a big point that the original ending of the musical was restored despite director Diane Paulus' insistence that her new more optimistic ending was necessary. Cue everyone's favorite death knell Michael Riedel of the New York Post reporting "a source involved in the revival of "Porgy and Bess" tells me: 'You'd better rush up to Boston if you want to see the show.'" He goes on to credit Stephen Sondheim with bringing the artistic direction of Paulus' production to the limelight.

You know how it went. Paulus and her team said the book was dated, the characters were almost non-existent, and a modern audience couldn't possibly sit through this show. Riedel is rather negative on this turn of events, criticizing Sondheim (as many have started to) for daring to write about a show he didn't see. That's strange because the New York Times also wrote about a show that no one had seen, only they allowed everyone to read all the changes that Diane Paulus was making. That, to me, seems like fair game to discuss.

But I digress. Riedel states "the producers are likely to fold the show after its Boston run," mentioning that stellar reviews for Audra McDonald are unlikely to fill a Broadway house. I'd disagree, but if his source is correct, it doesn't matter anymore. Purists win out over the need to add realism to a modern awareness to a period piece. Allegedly. And Audra still has plenty of time to play Bess on Broadway if another production will go after the brass ring.

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