From Distaste to High Praise: Diane Paulus on adapting Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Diane Paulus, one of America’s most influential theater directors, is in Los Angeles polishing details for the ongoing touring production at the Ahmanson Theater of her much talked-about adaptation for the musical theater of the opera by George and Ira Gershwin and Dubose and Dorothy Heyward, “Porgy and Bess.”
Long before Paulus unveiled the 2011 premiere of this re-working of an American masterpiece at Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, where she is artistic director, she was pilloried in the press by no less than the reigning master of contemporary musical theater, Stephen Sondheim, who wrote a letter to the New York Times expressing his distaste for the very idea of the re-working, sight unseen and unheard.
The Paulus adaptation, with new book by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and lyrics by Obie winning composer Diedre L. Murray, went on to triumph at the Tony Awards, and receive high praise from some critical circles, including New Yorker Magazine critic Hilton Als.
KUSC executive producer Gail Eichenthal talked to Diane Paulus for the Arts Alive blog about how the new production, which runs through June 1, came about.
Tickets and more information about the production can be found here.