75th Anniversary Tour of “Porgy & Bess” Comes to Charlotte May 14-16, 2010

From May 14 – 16 Charlotte’s Belk Theatre presents a 75th anniversary production of George Gershwin’s enduring masterpiece Porgy & Bess. Mounted with the full approval of the Gershwin estate by by veteran opera producer Michael Capasso (General Director of New York’s vibrant Dicapo Opera) in association with Willette Murphy Klausner, Porgy & Bess has been touring the country and receiving singularly high critical praise:

Just recently Christopher Hyde of The Portland Press Herald wrote:

“So many great sopranos and bass-baritones have sung the title roles that it is little short of amazing that the new road show…could hold the interest through three hours on Catfish Row.That it did so is due not only to a fine cast but also to the sensitive direction of Charles Randolph-Wright in this 75th anniversary production. Randolph-Wright’s intention was to restore the dignity of the characters in the tragic opera and to avoid – as much as possible in a libretto written in the 1930s – racial stereotypes. He has succeeded extremely well, so much so that the characters become what playwright DuBose Heyward and the Gershwin brothers intended – universal. Sportin’ Life, sung and danced brilliantly by Reggie Whitehead, is as close to Mephistopheles as is possible without horns and a tail.” (April 3, 2010)

Featuring a stellar cast including North Carolina School of the Arts graduate Leonard Rowe in the role of Porgy, and live orchestra along with new sets and costumes, this production is led by the renowned director and Charlotte native Charles Randolph-Wright.

Mr. Randolph Wright has built a dynamic and diversified career in directing, writing, and producing for theatre, television, and film. He has written and directed the film “Mama, I Want to Sing,” based on the renowned stage musical, which will be released commercially in movie theatres in the fall of 2010, starring Lynn Whitfield, Ciara, Patti LaBelle, Hill Harper, Ben Vereen, and Billy Zane.

He has also directed the television series “Lincoln Heights” (ABC Family) as well as the musical “They’re Playing Our Song,” in Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, Brazil. Other theatre credits include “Love Life” with Brian Stokes Mitchell at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; the 50th anniversary tour of “Guys and Dolls,” starring Maurice Hines; and “Blue” with Phylicia Rashad, which broke box office records in its premiere at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., the Roundabout Theatre in New York City, and at the Pasadena Playhouse (also starring Diahann Carroll and Clifton Davis). He directed “Emergency,” with Daniel Beaty at the Geffen Theatre; “Blood Knot,” with music by Tracy Chapman; “Act;” the world premieres of “Senior Discretion Himself” at the Arena Stage; “Tough Titty” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; and “Me and Mrs. Jones” at the Prince Theatre.

Mr. Rowe has performed the role of Porgy to acclaim with the New York City Opera and Michigan Theater Opera as well as the Cape Town Opera in South Africa. In addition, he sang the role of Jake on the World Premiere Recording of the Original 1935 Production version of Porgy & Bess which was released by Decca in 2006. Speaking about the 75th Anniversary production of Porgy & Bess Mr. Rowe said: “This is an innovative production with a cast eager to tell this wonderful story of love and hope.”

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