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Posts Tagged ‘DuBose Heyward’

Getting everyone together at a holiday doesn’t always work out the way you think, but whoever shows up makes for a fun time.

My youngest granddaughter, four months old, can’t handle the car seat or a long drive these days, so she and Erik bowed out a week ago. My older granddaughter got a stomach bug at the last minute, so she and her mom stayed home the night before instead of staying over with us. In spite of my daughter-in-law’s unexpected sickroom duty, she sent along a beautiful fruit salad and muffins.

John and my oldest grandson spent the night at our house. My husband and I had dug up a few of our bunny storybooks. The one that my brother wore out 60 years ago — and that has a pop-up illustration with my replacement bunny head on it — was a hit. Funny Bunny, by Alice and Martin Provensen, is about a solution-oriented little guy who was called “funny” because he had no tail. After admiring everyone else’s tail, he agrees he is not quite complete and sets off for a distant cotton patch in a great hurry, not stopping to say good morning to any of his woodland friends. “Funny Bunny had a plan. And he was in a hurry to see if it would work.” Hoping to avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that Funny Bunny’s solution involves sticky pine pitch.

Another hit was Suzanne’s all-time favorite Easter book, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, written by Dubose Heyward, with illustrations by Marjorie Flack. It’s quite a long story, and I was impressed that my grandson followed it all the way through. It is full of wisdom about what it takes to be a true star. (Super heroes, listen up!)

Suzanne and my younger grandson arrived with latkes and tulips for the egg-and-candy hunt and lunch. More gatherings are on the horizon, with both grandsons celebrating birthdays within the next few weeks. Whoever turns up, it will be fun.

Art: Albrecht Dürer
Borrowed from artyfactory

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We had already bought tickets for the new version of Porgy and Bess at the American Repertory Theater when Stephen Sondheim weighed in with an angry letter to the NY Times. He had not seen the show, but he apparently resented the tone of an article’s quotes from A.R.T. He may have thought director Diane Paulus and writer Suzan-Lori Parks were implying that they were better than the show’s original creators.

After the opening, Ben Brantley of the NY Times raved about Audra McDonald’s Bess while giving a mostly lukewarm review to everything else. Meanwhile, the student D.J. at Emerson College’s radio station kept reading promos for the show and pronouncing Porgy as “Porjy.” (He will always be Porjy to me now).

By the time our matinee rolled around, the day was almost too beautiful to be in a dark theater for three hours, and our initial anticipation had been reduced to mild curiosity.

So I’m happy to say we really liked A.R.T.’s Porgy — pretty much everything about it.

I admit that I am not intimate with the whole score and therefore was not always able to tell when new material had been inserted. (One line, about saving to send the baby to college, did come across with a loud, anachronistic clunk — but now a blog reader tells me it was in the original!) But the beauty of the songs, the dancing, the characters making the best of no-options, the love story! I cried pretty much the whole way through. And I’m still singing.

The only other Porgy and Bess I’d seen was directed by Bobby McFerrin in Minneapolis. It was long and kind of confusing, but I accepted that that’s the way opera often is. The A.R.T. may have presented a rejiggered story that was not true to the original, but it was a story that I could follow.

As I said to my husband on the way out, “Well, it worked for me.”

He said, “Sondheim should rethink his position.”

P.S. Audra McDonald was breathtaking.

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