Several weeks ago, musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim penned a bitchy letter to The New York Times complaining about the American Repertory Theater’s upcoming production of “The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.” Though he hadn’t seen it, the composer hurled accusations of arrogance and condescension at the show’s creative team.
He shouldn’t have bothered. This stunning adaptation of the Gershwin classic is one of the most extraordinary productions Boston has ever seen. From the sweet sounds of the show’s opening lullaby, “Summertime” through its inspired conclusion of “I’m on My Way,” director Diane Paulus and company have answered all naysayers with breathtakingly perfect theater.
This production unfolds almost magically, thanks to flawless lighting, glorious orchestrations, stellar vocals and an immensely talented ensemble.
As Bess, four-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald should start looking for a place to keep a fifth for her extraordinary work in this Broadway-bound show. With a voice that sounds like it’s from heaven, McDonald has the deft ability to make it feel like it’s hell to be Bess. Bess wouldn’t work, however, without an equally impressive Norm Lewis as Porgy. Though more subdued by necessity, his performance could also earn a trophy for his shelf.