'Porgy and Bess' opens at Gammage

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A great way to stay cool and enjoy some quality entertainment this summer is to check out some of the wonderful off-Broadway shows offered at Gammage Auditorium.

The national tour of The Gershwins' "Porgy and Bess" runs June 3-8 at Gammage, and has opened to rave reviews. The show won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

Based on DuBose Heyward's novel "Porgy" and the play of the same name, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward, the Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess is an elaborate new staging with a 23-piece orchestra, including such legendary songs as "Summertime," "It Ain't Necessarily So," and "I Got Plenty of Nothing."

The classic story is set in Charleston's fabled Catfish Row, where the beautiful Bess struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the only one who can rescue her is the courageous Porgy. Threatened by her formidable former lover Crown, and the seductive enticements of the colorful troublemaker Sporting Life, Porgy and Bess' relationship evolves into a deep romance that triumphs as one of theater's most exhilarating love stories.

Porgy and Bess first premiered at the Colonial Theatre in Boston on September 30, 1935. This new adaptation was specifically created for Broadway, and features a revised book in a musical theatre format and jazz-oriented musical arrangements.

The production is elaborate. It took four semi trucks to cart all the props and sets to Gammage. And the stage is called a "rake stage", which means it is set at an angle.  "It can become quite challenging," says performer Nicoel Johnson. "At this point in the tour we're used to being up here, but It can take a little bit of skill and control."

For ticket information about Porgy and Bess, visit: www.asugammage.com.