I’m wondering if you ever saw a live production of Porgy and Bess.
As familiar as I am with the story and music, I never did. Sure, I know I saw the movie but after a few interviews with the stars of the new musical, NPR made me ache for tickets. I was just driving somewhere and had the station cued on my radio for an afternoon interview as usual. Just before Audra MacDonald was about to share about her experiences as Bess, they played a few measures of her rendition of Bess You is My Woman Now and my arms were tingling and soon I was weeping, just like that. Weeping? Really.
I have seen Audra MacDonald on stage,TV and in movies and of course, I could see her as Bess. She spoke with passion about her work in creating this character and articulately described how important this piece was to her work as a black student of music. I had to see this production and I did know that it would be a tough sell for Tuvia. He would come along, but not happily. Musicals and operas were not for him.
We talked, I clicked around for tickets but did nothing, not until I was back in my car driving somewhere and listening to an interview with David Allen Grier who plays Sportin’ Life. His story with the musical was equally interesting and inticing. Like Porgy, his father (a distinguished American history professor) was crippled and wore a brace and was obsessed with the play. David was too young to know much about the play or his father’s connection with it. It was not until he was cast, did they share together.
Okay, now I was in!
I got back on my computer and clicked with purpose, finding a great deal for seats on TheaterMania.com and selecting a night and seats and Tuvia was in.
Tuesday was a cold day. We were back in warmer clothes and I was a bit chilled as we walked from the parking lot to the theater, but it was just a block. The theater was chilly as well but I was sure I wouldn’t need Tuvia’s sport jacket. I would be warmed by Gershwin.
We had great seats: back orchestra at the Richard Rodgers. Our section was raised up with no heads in the way. Just me with a straight site line to the entire stage. ENTIRE STAGE!
From song to song, as the play progressed and the characters evolved, I was inside Catfish Row, never fading out to my reality, even through the intermission. I don’t think I was singing the songs out loud but I was singing them in my heart. My heart was open to Bess’s struggle to change her path, accept love and build her confidence. We gasped when she succumbed to her past addictions and as the piece ended ( I didn’t want it to end) most of us were up and out of our seats gratefully applauding.
Tuvia didn’t join us. No, Bess and Porgy didn’t get to him but he did spend time watching me love the experience and he was satisfied.