EXCLUSIVE: Audra McDonald, Joshua Henry and Norm Lewis Gather for NYC Industry Look at Porgy and Bess

News   EXCLUSIVE: Audra McDonald, Joshua Henry and Norm Lewis Gather for NYC Industry Look at Porgy and Bess Prior to its debut this August at the American Repertory Theater, the revamped version of George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward's Porgy and Bess, starring Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis, will receive an industry-only presentation in New York City the weekend of May 6.

Norm Lewis
Norm Lewis Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and A.R.T. present the new incarnation, billed as The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, which is directed by Tony nominee Diane Paulus and 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). Expect the famed folk opera to include spoken text, aiming to be a musical for contemporary audiences.

Richards and Frankel's attachment to the project has left insiders speculating that Porgy and Bess may be poised for a Broadway run following its A.R.T. engagement, which begins Aug. 17 for a run through Sept. 30.

Audra McDonald
photo by Michael Wilson

The complete A.R.T. cast will appear in the New York presentations: McDonald (Master Class, Ragtime, Carousel) as Bess, Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) as Porgy, Tony nominee David Alan Grier (The First, Race, Dreamgirls) as Sportin' Life, Tony nominee Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys) as Jake, Philip Boykin as Crown and Trista Dollison as Clara.

The Porgy and Bess ensemble includes 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 includes Allison Blackwell, Roosevelt Andre Credit, Trevon Davis, Rosharra J'Nae Francis, Alicia Hall Moran, Rocklin Thompson and Lisa Nicole Wilkerson.

The creative team includes choreographer Ronald K. Brown, set designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Emilio Sosa, Tony Award-winning lighting designer Christopher Akerlind. Acme Sound Partners will design sound. Set in the fictional Catfish Row, SC, Porgy and Bess tells of the crippled beggar Porgy and his love for Bess. With 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."

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