Company of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess Records Cast Album March 26; New Release Date Set

By Adam Hetrick
26 Mar 2012

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis
Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis
Photo by Michael J. Lutch

The cast of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess gathers in a Manhattan recording studio March 26 and 27 to record the new cast album of the classic American opera, which will now be released in late May.

PS Classics was originally scheduled to record the two-disc album March 12 and 13, but several cast members were under the weather, including four-time Tony Award-winning leading lady Audra McDonald.

With everyone now in good voice, the company is set to record the album of the lush Gershwin score, which will now be released May 22, according to the PS Classics website. PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker began his producing career with an acclaimed series of Gershwin studio cast recordings in the early 1990's. 

"We had, of course, intended to record two weeks ago, but Audra came down with a sinus infection and had to go on vocal rest. You can't do Porgy and Bess without Bess," Krasker told Playbill.com. "There are lots of shows were you can lay down tracks, if necessary, and have a singer come in later, but Porgy and Bess isn't one of them, and in particular, this production of Porgy and Bess isn't one of them. You can't capture its vivid, raw emotionalism without the cast and orchestra there together, making music. There was no question that we had to postpone until Audra was all better; quality comes first – it has to."



Norm Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) stars as the crippled beggar Porgy opposite four-time Tony Award Audrea winner McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine, Master Class) as Bess.

The opera has music by George Gershwin, lyrics by his brother Ira and a book and additional lyrics by DuBose Heyward. It is based on the play Porgy, by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward.

The cast album of Porgy and Bess is currently available for pre-order from the PS Classics website. Orders placed via PS Classics will ship two weeks prior to the in-store release.

For other show recordings, visit the Playbill Store.

On the same day that Porgy and Bess hits stores (May 22), PS Classics will release a studio cast album of George Gershwin's earliest existing score — 1924's Sweet Little Devil. It has lyrics by B.G. DeSylva.

Porgy and Bess 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."

Joshua Henry and Nikki Renée Daniels
photo by Michael J. Lutch

The cast also includes two-time Tony nominee David Alan Grier (The First, Race, Dreamgirls) as Sportin' Life, Tony nominee Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys, American Idiot) as Jake, Nikki Renee Daniels 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 includes Allison Blackwell, Roosevelt Andre Credit, Trevon Davis, Joseph Dellger, Wilkie Ferguson, Alicia Hall Moran, Andrea Jones-Sojola, Lisa Nicole Wilkerson, Christopher Innvar, Carmen Ruby Floyd, David Hughey and Julius Thomas III.

Tony-nominated Hair director Diane Paulus directs the streamlined, two-and-a-half-hour version of the musical, which replaces portions of the sung recitative with dialogue. It opened Jan. 12 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre and recently extended its run through Sept. 30. The Gershwin and Heyward estates gave Paulus their blessing to take a fresh approach to the four-hour opera. Paulus brought on board Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Book of Grace), who is credited with adaptation and additional scenes, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Diedre Murray (Running Man), credited with musical adaptation.

According to the producers, Porgy and Bess "is set in Charleston’s fabled Catfish Row, where the beautiful Bess struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the only one who can rescue her is the crippled but courageous Porgy. Threatened by her formidable former lover Crown, and the seductive enticements of the colorful troublemaker Sporting Life, Porgy and Bess’ relationship evolves into a deep romance that triumphs as one of theater’s most exhilarating love stories."

Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and a six-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through its award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by Kate Baldwin, Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Jessica Molaskey and Christine Andreas; and recordings drawn from rare sound archives, including "Sondheim Sings." The company recently released a lavish, two-disc album of the Broadway revival of Follies.

For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com. The Richard Rodgers Theatre is located at 226 West 46th Street.