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Broadway Comes to the Movies

August 25, 2011

I am among the fortunate who live close enough to New York to see a Broadway show, if not as often as I’d like, at least once in a while.  But there are a lot that I miss, and I’ve always wished I could see those shows, and have an affordable way to introduce my kids to my love of musical theater.

So this past June I was thrilled to see Fathom Events offer the Lincoln Center production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Jon Cryer and Stephen Colbert among other performing greats, at a movie theatre around the corner from my house.  I immediately bought tickets for my two teenagers and myself.

I was not sure what to expect as far as audience turnout; would there be a big audience for a revival of a Sondheim musical in my very suburban neighborhood?  Arriving at the theater, I was pleasantly surprised to find a packed house – my group had to sit in the back row just to get seats together.  I recognized several people in the audience, including a group of high school students.  The audience reaction was wonderful, with everyone laughing and obviously enjoying the performance.  Most interesting was the applause after many of the musical numbers.

Of course, seeing a movie is not the same as a live musical performance so my kids and I attend as much professional and community theater and music performances as we can.  But for those who don’t have the means to see live professional theater, this is good way to experience top-notch performances of great material.  You may also be pleasantly surprised to see who else in your community comes out to enjoy the show.  Upcoming movie theater events include a Wynton Marsalis/Eric Clapton concert and a series of live broadcasts from the Met.

There’s a new production of Follies opening next month on Broadway.  Fathom Events, will that be coming to our neighborhood movie theaters soon?

Click here for more information about Fathom Events.

Click here to see music from Company.

Archive

Porgy and Bess Turn 75!

May 10, 2011
Porgy and Bess

Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

It seems like there are a few opera productions such as Bizet’s Carmen, Delibes’ Lakme, Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, and Verdi’s La Traviata that have stood the test of time.  George Gershwin’s classic opera Porgy and Bess is another all-time favorite, and has been performed on many stages around the country since 1935.  That’s right, the long-running show has turned 75 and is still bringing joy to thousands of people, not only nationally but on an international level as well.  It has made a memorable impression in the opera genre and is a distinguished American masterpiece.

Gershwin’s opera creation is a famous, brilliant and beloved piece of artwork but has not been without its share of controversy throughout its history.  Set in a vibrant African-American community in Charleston, South Carolina, it tells the story of a crippled beggar and the woman he loves.  Their lives are touched by poverty, violence, and drugs.  The work “was introduced as a folk opera, occupying a midway between opera and Broadway musical,” according to John Edward Hasse, curator of American Music at the Smithsonian Institution.  “At the time of its debut, the subject matter of Porgy and Bess was considered daring,” Hasse said.  “During the era of racial segregation, U.S. audiences were unaccustomed to music that gave serious artistic expression to the lives of African Americans.”  Perhaps equally daring for the times was the all-African-American cast  — a choice that made it possible for African Americans to be involved in a major production and be cast in principal roles in an era that provided few opportunities to do so.

Mr. Gershwin created the opera after reading the 1924 novel Porgy, written by a gentleman by the name of DuBose Heyward.  Gershwin actually traveled to Charleston, South Carolina and immersed himself in African-American music in order to depict the amazing spirit found in the Deep South culture of that era.  The Porgy and Bess characters are able to deliver an exciting, powerful, funny, and at times heart-wrenching storyline sure to leave the audience wanting more.  Porgy and Bess also displays an eclectic music style comprising blues, jazz, and traditional spirituals, but still expressed in an operatic format.

One of my all-time favorite arias from Porgy and Bess songs I enjoy hearing and singing is “Summertime” — such a pretty musical piece.  Last summer I performed Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy and Bess in a classical recital.  Years before, I was fortunate to see the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Porgy and Bess starring the very talented Gregg Baker and one of my favorite sopranos, Ms. Angela Brown.  Porgy and Bess is definitely a show worth seeing whether you’re an opera lover or not.  Be sure to check out www.jwpepper.com to find Porgy and Bess music for you to enjoy.  Congratulations to Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess on celebrating 75 years — may it have many more years of making people happy.  I know I’ve enjoyed having this Gershwin classic in my life!

Click here to read more about the show.

Click here to see music from the show available for purchase.