Staged against a backdrop of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” and the Southern Gullah culture of Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina, the popular Tony Award-winning opera ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” opened to a packed audience at SHN’s Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco last week.
For thosefamiliar with the love story and even those who are new to the tale, the talented cast pulls the audience in with their operatic harmonies, performed with the orchestra conducted by Dale Rieling.
Set in the late 1930s in the fictional Catfish Row, the story is about Bess – played by Alicia Hall Moran, a beautiful outspoken woman caught up in the fast life – falling in love with Porgy – played by Nathaniel Stampley, a cripple.
He rescues Bess after her beau Crown – played by Alvin Crawford – flees Catfish Row after committing murder.
The unexpected match turns good for Bess, helping her to battle drug addiction and showing her the joys of living comfortably in the country. Porgy lights up as he professes his love for Bess in spite of the disapproving sneers of his neighbors.
Moran’s operatic soprano and the resounding tenor of Stampley are captivating in their musical duo performances, “Bess, You is My Woman Now” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”
Another highlight of this show, which runs at Golden Gate Theatre through Dec. 8, are the Oakland roots of cast members Kent Overshown and Roosevelt André Credit.
An alumni of Oakland School for the Arts, Overshown plays Mingo, the undertaker, and gives a great performance in “Gone, Gone, Gone,” a funeral scene with the ensemble. He previously performed in the tour of “Memphis.”
André Credit plays a fisherman in Catfish Row. His vibrato can be heard in the Fisherman Quartet, “It Takes A Long Pull.” He has previously performed in Broadway’s “Show Boat’” and other off-Broadway plays.
Golden Gate Theatre is located at 1 Taylor St. in San Francisco. Visit www.shnsf.com for tickets and more information.