A.R.T. Announces Revised Casting for Porgy and Bess, Starring Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis

By Adam Hetrick
30 Jun 2011

Nikki Renee Daniels
Nikki Renee Daniels
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Revised casting has been announced for the Broadway-bound American Repertory Theater production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, which will bow in Cambridge, MA, Aug. 17. Newly added to the principal cast is Nikki Renee Daniels (Anything Goes, Les Miserables), who will play Clara.

As previously reported, Norm Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) will star as Porgy opposite four-time Tony Award winner Audra 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.

A.R.T. artistic director and Tony Award-nominated Hair director Diane Paulus will helm the production that will officially open Aug. 31 at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, MA.

Lewis, McDonald and Grier are also confirmed to repeat their performances in Porgy and Bess when the work arrives at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre Dec. 17. It will officially open Jan. 12, 2012. 



Previously announced are 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, which also includes newcomers, will feature 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.

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). Expect the famed folk opera to include spoken text, aiming to be a musical for contemporary audiences.

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."

Visit AmericanRepertoryTheater. A.R.T. is located at 64 Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA.