Porgy and Bess is getting new context thanks to Tony Award-nominated Hair director Diane Paulus, who will first stage the revised production of the classic opera at the American Repertory Theater beginning Aug. 17 in Cambridge, MA. It will continue through Oct. 2.
The production will later transfer to Broadway beginning Dec. 17 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It will officially open Jan. 12, 2012. American Express cardholders can begin purchasing tickets to the Broadway engagement Aug. 10.
Producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and A.R.T. present the new incarnation, billed as The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, which is getting the fresh dramaturgical eyes of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Book of Grace) and Pulitzer Prize nominee Diedre Murray (Running Man).
Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) will star as Porgy opposite four-time Tony Award winner McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine, Master Class) as Bess. They are joined by two-time Tony nominee David Alan Grier (The First, Race, Dreamgirls) as Sportin' Life and Tony nominee Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys) as Jake.
At this time, only Lewis, McDonald and Grier are announced to appear in the Broadway transfer. The A.R.T. cast also includes Nikki Renee Daniels (Anything Goes, Les Miserables) as Clara, Phillip Boykin as Crown, Bryonha Marie Parham as Serena, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Maria, Cedric Neal as Frazier, J.D. Webster as Mingo, Heather Hill as Lily, Phumzile Sojola as Peter and Nathaniel Stampley as Robbins.
The ensemble features Allison Blackwell, Roosevelt Andre Credit, Trevon Davis, Joseph Dellger, Wilkie Ferguson, Alicia Hall Moran, Andrea Jones-Sojola, and Lisa Nicole Wilkerson. The Coroner is played by Joseph Dellger.
The creative team includes choreographer Ronald K. Brown, set designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Emilio Sosa and Tony Award-winning lighting designer Christopher Akerlind. Acme Sound Partners will design sound. Orchestrations are by William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, with music supervision by David Loud. Sheilah Walker will conduct.
Porgy and Bess has music by George Gershwin, lyrics by his brother Ira and a book by DuBose Heyward; the work includes such songs as "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "I Loves You, Porgy," "My Man's Gone Now," "There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York," "Summertime," "I Got Plenty o' Nothin'" and "It Ain't Necessarily So."
According to A.R.T., "This classic American tale tells the story of the beautiful and troubled Bess, who turns to Porgy, the crippled beggar, in search of safety after her possessive lover Crown commits murder. As Porgy and Bess’s love grows, their future is threatened by Crown and the conniving Sportin' Life."
For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com.