'Porgy and Bess' returns to DC's National Theatre

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 24, 2013 at 11:24 am •  Published: December 24, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — One of 2012's Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals, which also had a unique role in American theater history in Washington, is opening this week at the National Theatre.

"The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" won the Tony Award in 2012 for best musical revival and is now on a 14-state tour. It opens Christmas Day in Washington and runs through Sunday. The original four-hour opera has been condensed into a two-and-a-half-hour musical for the revival.

The original "Porgy and Bess" played a role in desegregating the National Theatre's audience in 1936, at least for a time. Todd Duncan, who played the original Porgy, and Anne Brown, the original Bess, led the entirely black cast to strike and force the inclusion of African-Americans in the audience.

Michael Strunsky, Ira Gershwin's nephew and trustee of his estate, said the musical version was conceived to bring the story to a broader audience beyond opera.

"This is a fabulous story, and it's punctuated by George Gershwin's just unbelievably creative music," Strunsky said in a recent interview. "It's a piece that has been under-appreciated, I think, even right from the genesis in 1935."

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