American Playhouse: Season 11, Episode 3

Porgy and Bess (6 Oct. 1993)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 107 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 4 critic

The story of a disabled beggar in Charleston,S.C. who falls in love with a prostitute, this is the first filmed version of Gershwin's opera which uses Gershwin's own orchestrations and ... See full summary »



(libretto), (based on the play by), 3 more credits »
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Title: Porgy and Bess (06 Oct 1993)

Porgy and Bess (06 Oct 1993) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Willard White ...
Cynthia Haymon ...
Gregg Baker ...
Cynthia Clarey ...
Marietta Simpson ...
Paula Ingram ...
Harolyn Blackwell ...
Clara (singing voice)
Gordon Hawkins ...
Bruce Hubbard ...
Jake (singing voice)
Barrington Coleman ...
D. Alonzo Washington ...
Johnny Worthy ...
Robbins (singing voice)
Curtis Watson ...
Mervin Wallace ...


The story of a disabled beggar in Charleston,S.C. who falls in love with a prostitute, this is the first filmed version of Gershwin's opera which uses Gershwin's own orchestrations and practically all of the music, with only one major cut. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno

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Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

6 October 1993 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


For this production, as well as for the 1986 Glyndebourne stage production on which this is based, director Trevor Nunn decided that it would be more effective to have Porgy walking with the aid of a crutch rather than riding around on a soapbox fitted out with wheels and pulled by a goat, as in all previous productions of the opera. He felt (rightly or wrongly) that this would make Porgy more sexually attractive to Bess. See more »


Porgy: [singing] Bess, you is my woman now, You is, you is, And you must sing and dance and play for two instead of one. Want no wrinkle on your brow, No-how, Because the sorrow of the past is all done done, Oh, Bess, my Bess, The real happiness is just begun.
See more »


Finale: O Lawd, I'm On My Way
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by DuBose Heyward
Sung by Willard White, Marietta Simpson, Cynthia Clarey, Mervin Wallace, Maureen Breathwaite and Chorus
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User Reviews

Exceptional Production of an Exceptional Work
16 August 2010 | by See all my reviews

This production is a collector's item. Stage or other productions of Porgy and Bess are rare.

I concur in the reviews above except the first, which I find a bit too demanding. The production, due to the curious solution regarding the casting, really can't be considered as "perfect," but it is truly remarkable. It is otherwise as good as a television adaptation of an opera can get. Will anyone ever attempt Scott Joplin's Treemonisha?

To answer one concern, that it is overly romantic? Well, yes, the story is indeed romantic --- the essence of the story is a romance. One could remark that the setting is "romanticized," not truly representative of the Low Country Gullah culture, but this interpretation seems too limiting and unappreciative of the contributions of Gullah culture which Heyward and the Gershwins sought to reflect. The wonderful stories of The Song of the South (which are based on Gullah stories) have been basically lost due to the virtual "blacklisting" of that production. It does thankfully seem that Porgy and Bess has avoided this obstacle.

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