The Gershwin and Heyward estates enlisted Tony-winning Hair and Pippin director Diane Paulus to help bring new context to Porgy and Bess for contemporary audiences, whittling the American folk opera down from four hours to a two-and-a-half-hour running time. It opened to critical acclaim on Broadway Jan. 12, 2012, earning the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. The production concluded its Broadway run Sept. 23, 2012, after 321 performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
To reinvigorate the characters and bolster the dramatic impact of the story, 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.
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess will officially open in San Francisco Nov. 13. Additional cities on the tour include Los Angeles (Ahmanson Theatre), Seattle (5th Avenue Theatre), Dallas (Winspear Opera House), West Palm Beach, Tampa, Naples, Greenville, Cleveland, West Palm Beach, Tempe, St. Paul and Greenville.
Completing the company are Dan Barnhill, Vanjah Boikai, Adrianna M. Cleveland, Roosevelt André Credit, Cicily Daniels, Dwelvan David, Nkrumah Gatling, Tamar Greene, Nicole Adell Johnson, James Earl Jones II, Quentin Oliver Lee, Cheryse Mcleod Lewis, Sarita Rachelle Lilly, Kent Overshown, Chauncey Packer, Lindsay Roberts, Fred Rose and Soara-Joye Ross.
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 theatre's most exhilarating love stories."
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."
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 design sound. Orchestrations are by William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, with music supervision by Constantine Kitsopolous. Musical director-conductor for the tour is Dale Rieling.
PS Classics recorded a cast album of the new incarnation of the work.
View highlights from the Broadway production below: