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Today In Charleston History: October 10

1765 – Elections

The people of the back country of South Carolina decided to show their unhappiness with the Charlestown politicians during the election. Many rode more than 100 miles to vote. The voters of St. Paul’s parish (Colleton County) arrived to discover that the election had been held ten days before the announced date. They were told by Charlestown officials that was due to an error by the printer, which no one believed.


Original playbill

The New York opening of Porgy and Bess took place at the Alvin Theatre in New York City and ran for 124 performances, impressive for an opera, and but woefully short for a musical. The reviews were decidedly mixed. Brooks Atkinson wrote in the New York Times, October 9, 1935:

After eight years of savory memories, Porgy has acquired a score, a band, a choir of singers and a new title, Porgy and Bess, which the Theatre Guild put on at the Alvin last evening … Although Mr. Heyward is the author of the libretto and shares with Ira Gershwin the credit for the lyrics, and although Mr. Mamoulian has again mounted the director’s box, the evening is unmistakably George Gershwin’s personal holiday … Let it be said at once that Mr. Gershwin has contributed something glorious to the spirit of the Heywards’ community legend.

Composer/critic Virgil Thomson, writing for the New York Herald-Tribune, was less kind, calling Gershwin’s incorporation of blues and jazz influences into a “serious” operatic score to be “falsely conceived and rather clumsily executed…crooked folklore and half-way opera.”

17b. porgy and bess (loc) blank pg. 170

Porgy and Bess, original cast

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