The racial history of George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
is as tangled and contradictory as America's own racial history. And maybe that's why the folk opera persists in finding a new audience. The musical is set in the poor black town of Catfish Row and features gamblers, brawlers, drug dealers and troublemakers -- but they're all free people played by black singers who get star billing and the chance to perform some of the greatest songs in the American Songbook, including "Summertime" and "I Got Plenty of Nothin'." The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
is a new staging of the show, with a book that was adapted and contemporized by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. The beautiful Bess is still loved by two men -- the cruel Crown and good-hearted Porgy -- and she still must decide which man she'll choose. This version of the show won the Tony for best revival of a musical in 2012, and much of the Broadway cast journeys to St. Louis this week to perform the show on the Muny stage in Forest Park (314-361-1900 or www.muny.org
) at 8:15 p.m. Monday through Sunday (July 7 through 13). Tickets are $14 to $85.
July 7-13, 8:15 p.m., 2014