Lame Adventure 226: Summertime Sax

Now that Labor Day weekend has arrived and the ending credits are beginning to roll on summer 2011, my sidekick, Greg, and I have taken it upon ourselves to once again collaborate on a music video where he does the playing, I try not to let my delirium tremors get in the way of holding the camcorder steady, and we both do our best to ignore the stench of stale urine on Staple Street, where we recently shot this video in TriBeCa.

The tune we have chosen is Summertime from the folk opera Porgy and Bess, with music by George Gershwin, book by DuBose Heywood and lyrics by Heywood and Ira Gershwin.  According to Summertime Connection, a web site completely devoted to this one song, for the past seven years eleven guys from all over the world have been collecting as much data as possible about how many times this song has been recorded and performed.  According to this site:

“At May 1st 2011 at 00.01 GMT we know of at least 41,915 public performances, of which 33,345 have been recorded.  Of these we have 25,998 full recordings in our collection.”

This treasure trove of information impresses me much more than the state-side guys that are walking encyclopedias about Abbott and Costello. The guys at Summertime Connection have concluded that Summertime is one of the most covered songs in music history, so Lame Adventures is joining the herd in time for the upcoming revival on Broadway of Porgy and Bess, now re-titled The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (yes Heywood, the writer, is neglected title-wise).

In a scathing letter to The New York Times directed at the creative team that’s reviving this show, music-theater legend Stephen Sondheim vents his spleen, and almost every other organ in his being, at the liberties they (Suzan Lori-Parks, Diane Paulus, and Diedre Murray) have taken including the renaming of this masterwork.  Had I been subject to the intensity of his wrath, I would have either hidden under the covers of my bed for the remainder of the year, or made the humiliation easy on myself and simply blown out my brains.

Fortunately, the creative team forged ahead and their revival is currently in out of town tryouts at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts before it transitions to Broadway this winter.  The initial review by Ben Brantley, top theater critic at The New York Times, gave the star, Audra McDonald, who plays Bess, a rave, and the overall show an endorsement, so the creative forces behind this revival must be breathing a huge sigh of relief.  Possibly, after he sees it, even Stephen Sondheim might give it an upward digit.  Naturally, I’m thinking about his thumb but he might choose to stick with his middle finger.

Check out Greg contributing to the almost 42,000 public performances of Summertime as summer slips away.

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