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Porgy And Bess

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NEWS
August 21, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Porgy and Bess has so many different past lives, you never know if the latest one - a storm-inducing American Repertory Theater mounting starring Audra McDonald that began performances Wednesday - is a progression or a regression. Although soundly conceived as a grand opera, George Gershwin's 1935 masterpiece contains so many breakout tunes that Porgy and Bess has led a double life. It thrived on Broadway and similar venues into the mid-1970s, when a revival by the Houston Grand Opera showed audiences that it's the Great American Opera.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 27, 2001 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The great American opera began, quite appropriately, as a bit from the police blotter. The seeds of Porgy appeared in the Charleston News & Courier in March of 1924: "Sammy Smalls, who is a cripple and is familiar to King Street, with his goat and cart, was held for the June term of Court of Sessions on an aggravated assault charge. It is alleged that on Saturday night he attempted to shoot Maggie Barnes at number four Romney Street. " Porgy never took a shot at Bess, but something in the character of Sammy Smalls - who tried to flee police in his wagon - appealed to DuBose Heyward.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 22, 2001 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess wouldn't be so controversial if it didn't so insistently demand to be loved. The opera's ecstatic love songs and sassy showstoppers have all but entered the realm of folk song in American culture. But the story they're attached to, featuring racial stereotypes light years from The Cosby Show, hasn't had an easy ride into the 21st century. Soprano Leontyne Price left a star-making Porgy and Bess tour swearing off Catfish Row for the rest of her career.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 27, 2011 | By Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
NEW YORK - As deliberate as Audra McDonald is about picking songs for her concerts, what she says in between singing them is anything but considered. "I just talk, which sometimes is good, and sometimes is not good at all," she says, laughing. "I find that keeps me at my most honest, which then keeps me in the right frame of mind for each song. " The four-time Tony Award winner has even surprised herself by suddenly talking about shoes or what she ate for lunch. "For some people, it's like, 'Oh, dear.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 14, 2002 | By TOM DI NARDO For the Daily News
GERSHWIN'S "PORGY AND BESS. " At Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue, 8:30 tonight and tomorrow. $38-$58, 215-893-1999. PUCCINI'S "IL TABARRO. " Opera North, Mandell Theater, 33rd and Chestnut streets, 4 p.m. Sunday. $40, 215-843-9880. Gershwin's beloved grand opera "Porgy and Bess" is a pinnacle of American music, with as many hummable and memorable tunes as the arias of Verdi's day. Despite the strict conditions and roadblocks from the Gershwin estate, and the logistics of mounting large productions, the work has become a sure-fire moneymaker well worth the grand-scale effort.
NEWS
February 21, 2014 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
If you know only the rich Gershwin music and gorgeous songs of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess , you might be surprised, as I was, when you actually see this opera-turned-Broadway musical, currently on national tour and in Philadelphia through Sunday. Touted as a radical reinvention and updating of the sacred 1935 show, the surprise for me was in how dated it seemed and how little I was moved by the characters and their plight. Never mind the controversy about altering the Gershwins' opera, which Stephen Sondheim famously weighed in on, leaving scorched earth beneath director Diane Paulus' feet; never mind the treatment of a black community that seems to flirt with racist parody.
NEWS
June 17, 2002 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
For all of its lyrical radiance, Porgy and Bess should only be done when the production, casting, sensitivity to racial stereotypes, and astrological chart of its author, George Gershwin, are in the proper alignment. If not, audiences are punished by a long, badly paced evening that hails from what can seem like an obscure milieu, the now-faded Gullah culture of 1930s South Carolina African Americans. That considered, nothing - not even the weather - looked promising Saturday at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts where a relatively low-budget touring production of Porgy and Bess played for two nights.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 14, 2012 | By Howard Shapiro, Inquirer Staff Writer
NEW YORK - The immensely satisfying Porgy and Bess that opened in a Broadway revival Thursday night is not your grandma's P&B . In a controversial makeover that has ended up neither controversial nor very much made over, what you get is a compelling and confident mixture of opera and stage sense that drives the music as well as the story. Some people - most notably Steven Sondheim - protested after news last summer that Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks ( Topdog/Underdog)
ENTERTAINMENT
February 3, 1998 | By Daniel Webster, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
It's been called a humiliating cartoon of African American life, a typical example of white put-down. It's been criticized for being amateurish musically and embarrassing socially. Yet whatever grumbles and groans have risen from black listeners, white audiences, and opera lovers of all stripes, George and lyricist Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess has brushed past them all to be the one and only, the greatest, American opera. Now, in George Gershwin's centennial year, performers, scholars, writers and people who knew the composer look at the work anew in Porgy and Bess : An American Voice, 10 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 12. The 90-minute show is not a performance, but an intriguing look at the opera and its message, narrated by actress Ruby Dee. Amazingly, the producers found and interviewed Anne Brown and Todd Duncan, who sang the title roles in the opera's 1935 Broadway premiere.
NEWS
April 27, 1987 | BY DON WILLIAMSON
Athens, Ohio - They warned me that James E. Alsbrook is a hard man to argue with. That probably has something to do with the fact that he stored up an immense amount of knowledge on his way to becoming professor emeritus here at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. This is Communications Week at OU, and an impressive list of journalists are in attendance - including Sander Vanocur of ABC, syndicated columnist James J. Kilpatrick and Nate Polowetzky, Associated Press's assistant general manager for foreign news.
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ENTERTAINMENT
June 11, 2014 | By Tirdad Derakhshani, Inquirer Staff Writer
Dolly and Miley . . . . . . imperfect together. Dolly Parton , 68, who just by chance has a new CD out, tells People mag she feels for Miley Cyrus because back in the day, "Lots of people thought . . . that I was just trashy. " Then she adds, hilariously, "which I was. "   Spike Awards: Hard choices   The Spike Guys Choice Awards is about one thing, as we all know. Two. Three at the most. Anyway, Saturday in Culver City, Calif., Sandra Bullock , yay!
NEWS
February 21, 2014 | By Toby Zinman, For The Inquirer
If you know only the rich Gershwin music and gorgeous songs of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess , you might be surprised, as I was, when you actually see this opera-turned-Broadway musical, currently on national tour and in Philadelphia through Sunday. Touted as a radical reinvention and updating of the sacred 1935 show, the surprise for me was in how dated it seemed and how little I was moved by the characters and their plight. Never mind the controversy about altering the Gershwins' opera, which Stephen Sondheim famously weighed in on, leaving scorched earth beneath director Diane Paulus' feet; never mind the treatment of a black community that seems to flirt with racist parody.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 19, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
George Gershwin's last visit to Philadelphia, just as his magnum opus Porgy and Bess was leaving Broadway with an air of failure, found the usually ebullient composer talking about happiness as if were a mirage. "If most composers were left to themselves, they would write only sad ballads. Writing happy music is the hardest. I have to imagine what a happy frame of mind is like and then try to compose," he told a reporter at the Ritz Carlton, while going through two books of matches relighting his ever-present pipe.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 17, 2013 | BY CHUCK DARROW, Daily News Staff Writer darrowc@phillynews.com, 215-313-3134
THE SMASH musical comedy "The Book of Mormon" heads up a particularly strong 2013-14 roster of shows presented by the Kimmel Center under the newly minted "Broadway Philadelphia" banner. Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone - the brains behind "South Park" - "Book of Mormon," which captured nine Tony Awards in 2012, tells the tuneful, mirthful tale of a pair of young Mormon missionaries in Uganda. It is set for a six-week Forrest Theatre run, beginning July 29, 2014. For those with more traditional aesthetic leanings, the lineup also boasts "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 9, 2012 | By Tirdad Derakhshani, Inquirer Staff Writer
Critics don't like Taken 2 , but Liam Neeson's action sequel has proved twice the hit among fans as the original movie. Taken 2 led the box office with $50 million domestically over opening weekend. That's double the haul for Neeson's Taken , which took in $24.7 million in its U.S. debut in 2009. The previous weekend's No. 1 movie at the U.S. box office, Adam Sandler's animated hit Hotel Transylvania , dropped to second place with $26.3 million. Expanding into nationwide release after a limited debut a week earlier, Universal's music tale Pitch Perfect moved up to third place with $14.7 million.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 31, 2012 | By Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
NEW YORK - David Alan Grier has a gentle message for anyone who is getting all hot and bothered thinking that he's helping ruin an American masterpiece. "Relax. Let it go," he says. "We're not killing it. We're just doing our version. " The actor and comedian is currently starring as Sporting Life in a reworked version called The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess on Broadway, following a controversial tryout in the fall near Boston. The creative team, with the blessing of the creators' estates (thus the title)
ENTERTAINMENT
January 14, 2012 | By Howard Shapiro, Inquirer Staff Writer
NEW YORK - The immensely satisfying Porgy and Bess that opened in a Broadway revival Thursday night is not your grandma's P&B . In a controversial makeover that has ended up neither controversial nor very much made over, what you get is a compelling and confident mixture of opera and stage sense that drives the music as well as the story. Some people - most notably Steven Sondheim - protested after news last summer that Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks ( Topdog/Underdog)
ENTERTAINMENT
October 27, 2011 | By Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
NEW YORK - As deliberate as Audra McDonald is about picking songs for her concerts, what she says in between singing them is anything but considered. "I just talk, which sometimes is good, and sometimes is not good at all," she says, laughing. "I find that keeps me at my most honest, which then keeps me in the right frame of mind for each song. " The four-time Tony Award winner has even surprised herself by suddenly talking about shoes or what she ate for lunch. "For some people, it's like, 'Oh, dear.
NEWS
August 21, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Porgy and Bess has so many different past lives, you never know if the latest one - a storm-inducing American Repertory Theater mounting starring Audra McDonald that began performances Wednesday - is a progression or a regression. Although soundly conceived as a grand opera, George Gershwin's 1935 masterpiece contains so many breakout tunes that Porgy and Bess has led a double life. It thrived on Broadway and similar venues into the mid-1970s, when a revival by the Houston Grand Opera showed audiences that it's the Great American Opera.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 17, 2010 | By JONATHAN TAKIFF, staff
Sifting through this week's new album releases, I got to thinking about a classic "Saturday Night Live" fake commercial for (overly) tight-fitting jeans branded "Bad Idea. " I'm not saying this week's works are totally off the mark. But several are clearly challenging expectations, both in material choices and marketing. FOR STARTERS: Didja' know that John Mellencamp was a down-on-his-luck, old-time country blues and rockabilly storyteller? The guy's been inching in that direction for a couple of albums, but "No Better Than This" (Rounder, B+)
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