PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A story of love, family and courage continues to have an impact, though it has been told for more than 80 years.
“Porgy and Bess,” considered the first opera showing a slice of African American life, has been made into a film, a play and a musical.
Actors Alicia Hall Moran, Nathaniel Stampley, Alvin Crawford and Kingsley Leggs visited KDKA to talk about what makes the Broadway musical so special.
“They are universal themes that audiences all over the world identify with – there is love, there’s loss, there’s, you know, hope,” said Stampley. “And there’s dread and fear and death, but these are all things that any culture, and you know, we all deal with it no matter your age, your race or any of that. But these are all themes that are brilliantly put together in a wonderful night of theater and great music.”
“When you watch “Porgy & Bess,” you don’t get pedantic answers, but you do get one genius’ version of that story of America’s culture coming together,” said Moran. “That’s really what it’s coming down to. You don’t have to like it, you fight with it, it’s worth wrestling with because the material that is there is just us.”
Summertime is probably one of the best know songs from “Porgy and Bess.”
A musical based on the 1935 opera of the same name by George Gershiwn, Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershiwn, which is in turn based on Heyward’s 1925 novel, “Porgy.”
“I think in this production, these people have been made real and complex. When the Heyward and Gershwin Foundations decided to make a new production, they went to Diane Polsey, our director, our brilliant director and she went to Suzan-Lori Parks, who’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and an African-American woman, and she streamlined all of the characters to make them relatable and real,” said Crawford. “So, what you see on the stage are relationships.”
“We really get to play a very realistic, accurate and exciting portrayal of African-American life during that time, and in that specific area of the country. The show does not apologize for, for us being those people, and I really appreciate that as an actor, and I think the audiences appreciate that when they come,” added Leggs. “Nothing is watered down for effect or to make it less effective. We just play the play and play the truth of the play and the people. It makes for a really exciting evening for us on stage and for the people in the audience.”