PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 25-July 1: Broadway Will Welcome Porgy, Venus in Fur and Kim Cattrall

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 25-July 1: Broadway Will Welcome Porgy, Venus in Fur and Kim Cattrall Some performances are inevitable. The actor is such a big star, and so perfectly suited to a classic role, that it's only a matter of time before the marriage of that thespian and that part happens and a production is born. Christopher Plummer does King Lear? But of course he does! Patti LuPone plays Mama Rose? What would be surprising is if she didn't.

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald Photo by Michael Wilson

The news that Audra McDonald would perform in a Broadway production of the George Gershwin-DuBose Heyward folk opera Porgy and Bess falls under this category. Ever since the golden-voiced, charismatic actress made her mark in Carousel nearly 20 years ago, the theatre community has known it would only be a matter of time until she essayed what is arguably the most famous African-American female musical role in American theatre history.

The American Repertory Theater production, which begins performances in August, will arrive on Broadway Dec. 17 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Joining McDonald will be Broadway stalwart Norm Lewis as Porgy, who has a voice to match his co-star's, and David Alan Grier as Sportin' Life. The production has been specifically created for Broadway and will feature a revised book in a musical theatre format and jazz-oriented musical arrangements. (Who knew that jazz baby George Gershwin needed help in the jazz department?) Diane Paulus, of Hair fame, will direct.

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Bernadette Peters in Follies.
photo by Joan Marcus

Also inevitable, it could be argued, is that Bernadette Peters, one of the premier interpreters of Stephen Sondheim, would play Sally in Follies one day. She did so at the Kennedy Center the past spring. And now it has been announced that she will repeat her work at the Marquis Theatre beginning Aug. 7. Opening night is Sept. 12. (Dates were announced this week.)

The starry production, which will boast a 41-person cast and a 28-piece orchestra, will also be headed by Jan Maxwell as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Danny Burstein as Buddy Plummer and Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone, all vets of the DC gig. Eric Schaeffer will again direct. ***

That Kim Cattrall should play in Noel Coward's Private Lives was not inevitable. But, against all odds, the "Sex and the City" star will be Broadway's latest Amanda.

Richard Eyre directs the staging, which began in London in 2010, with Canadian star Paul Gross also in the cast. Cattrall has done most of her stage acting in the U.K.; this is the first of her performances to sail the Atlantic. The limited run will begin on Nov. 17, at the Music Box, it was announced.

The romantic comedy has a long tradition of providing film and television performers with a Broadway showcase. Joan Collins played Amanda in 1992 and Elizabeth Taylor acted the role in 1983. The most recently Amanda, however, was British theatre blueblood Lindsay Duncan.

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Nina Arianda in the 2010 world-premiere staging of Venus in Fur.
photo by Joan Marcus

When rising theatre star Nina Arianda made her Broadway debut last season in a revival of Born Yesterday, critics sniffed that, yes, she was good, but not as good as she was in the play that launched her career: Venus in Fur, David Ives' two-actor Classic Stage Company comedy of 2010. (Critics love to taunt you with performances and productions that you have no way of seeing anymore. It's one of their favorite, theatre-geek power trips.)

Well, all that critical whining has given Ives' play a new lease on life. Once rumored for a Broadway berth, it is now a Broadway definite. Manhattan Theatre Club, by special arrangement with Jon B. Platt and Scott Landis, will produce the sexually charged work at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre beginning Oct. 13 toward a November opening. Walter Bobbie will again direct Arianda the production. The leading man has not been announced. (Film actor Wes Bentley originated the male role Off-Broadway. At the time, he was the production's name star. How the worm does turn.)

It will return Bobbie to Broadway, a street where the director hasn't had a lot of luck since he took home the Tony for the still-running Chicago. It also gives veteran playwright David Ives his Broadway debut as a playwright. Ives has several Broadway credits to his name, but they are as librettist to a musical (White Christmas) or adaptor of someone else's work (Mark Twain's Is He Dead?). Here, it's all about him. Finally, this is the first Classic Stage Company show to transfer to Broadway since…wait, has that ever happened?

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