Broadway's Porgy and Bess Drops New Happy Ending

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 11:02 AM

The forthcoming Broadway production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess has dropped plans for a new happy ending, following public criticism from composer Stephen Sondheim.

In August, the creative team behind the show described making significant changes to the 1935 opera in the hope of reframing it for a contemporary Broadway audience. That included punching up some dialogue, inventing new biographical details and adding a final scene that indicated that sought to lessen the ambiguity about whether Porgy and Bess would be reunited.

The addition has been scrapped, according to The New York Times, though its director insists it wasn't the result of Sondheim's letter to the newspaper criticizing the proposed changes that changed her mind.

“We were learning about the work as we were living it, experimenting with different scenes and endings, and by the culmination of our journey with Porgy and Bess — the show and those characters — we found its strongest version,” Paulus told the Times. "It had nothing to do with Mr.-Whomever-we-are-not-talking-about, or the producers or the estates."

Paulus adds that she's "reluctant to talk about the details of the ending" that's in the current version of the show because she doesn't want her description "to get misinterpreted. I don't want someone to read it and go crazy."

Previews of the opera are due to start on December 17 at the Richard Rogers Theater.

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Comments [3]

LES from WDC


The production at the Kennedy Center of a few years ago was quite well done, capturing the bitter sadness and tradgedy of the story. The destructive effect of 'happy dust' on Bess and Sportin' Life is every bit as relevant today as it was in 20's, when the opera is set. And for the character of Porgy, a tragic figure if ever there was, a happy ending is inconceivable. The work endures because it addresses life as it can sometimes be -- not always with a ribbon and bow.

Nov. 16 2011 11:59 AM
Katalin Mitchell

This is four month-old news.... the production ran for four weeks at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge with the traditional ending.

Nov. 16 2011 10:41 AM
Gail Pierris

Good. Listen to the "Master" of Broadway. Dont fool around with a classic.

Nov. 16 2011 09:37 AM

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