I learned today that this performance is more than likely going to make me cry tears, LITERAL TEARS. I am actually crying on the inside right now and am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that newly trained singers at the college are going to be singing some songs from The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. If you have no idea what Porgy and Bess is, it is an opera that first appeared on Broadway in 1935 and has been revised quite a few times. In 2011 it appeared again on Broadway starring Audra McDonald as Bess and one of my all time favorite Broadway stars, Norm Lewis, as Porgy. The production ended in September of this year and the production has won numerous awards for a good reason. I really wanted to see the production but unfortunately I live nowhere near New York. =(
But continuing on with my story, the college has untrained singers singing Porgy and Bess. I hate to say this but in no way, shape, or form, will this be good. Sure, I haven't see it yet but I know two of the singers who will be portraying both Porgy and Besssss. One is a white girl who is my age and is only in the class for a credit because advanced piano or whatever it's called was not offered this semester. Now I'm not being racist what so ever but for some reason I cannot see a white female portraying Bess, I simply cannot. In my opinion the entire musical makes a strong statement about the isolation and prejudice so deeply embedded in our culture still today. Yet it the show does it in a very subtle and very effective way, without hammering audiences over the head to get the point across. Porgy and Bess portrays something that is still seldomly acknowledged about life during that time period.
However it is not for me to say what type of person will be portraying Bess, if the caucasian piano player can sing Summertime without damaging her vocal chords I can only say good luck.
As for the guy who's going to be singing as Porgy, he is a nice guy but considering he has absolutely not commitment to either theatre or music (as he made clear with a previous theatre show I was in where he either didn't show up to rehearsals and when he did, he showed up about an hour late) he will not qualify as the next Norm Lewis. His voice is alright but needs some work.
But that is not the biggest issue here and I do not want to turn this into a debate about racism or color blind casting for a singing performance.
The biggest issue for me is exactly how the hell are amateurs going to pull this off? To sing any song from this musical and not make it not sound mediocre is going to be a problem. I'm sorry to say this but it is hard to imagine a college kid pulling this off without the musical experience.
I am being brutally honest with everything I am saying here because I absolutely do not want to see these songs get slaughtered. I love these songs immensely and to have them get screwed with may just put another dagger into my soul.