Porgy and Bess Tour to Launch in San Francisco; Sumayya Ali, Bryonha Marie Parham Join Cast

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01 May 2013

Phillip Boykin
Phillip Boykin
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The national tour of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, starring Alicia Hall Moran, Nathaniel Stampley and Tony Award nominee Phillip Boykin, will launch in November at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre.

The Gershwin and Heyward estates enlisted Tony-nominated 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 after 321 performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Hall Moran understudied Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as Bess in the Broadway revival of the musical last season, in addition to performing the role on Wednesday evenings. Stampley portrayed Robbins in the revival and also covered the role of Porgy. Original revival cast member Boykin, who earned a Tony nomination for portraying the menacing Crown, will reprise his work on the tour.

The tour will also feature original Broadway revival cast members Sumayya Ali as Clara, Dan Barnhill as the Detective, Bryonha Marie Parham as Serena, Allison Blackwell as a Woman of Catfish Row, Roosevelt André Credit as a Fisherman and Joseph Dellger as the Policeman.



Complete casting will be announced shortly.

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess will begin previews Nov. 10 and 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.

Porgy and Bess 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.

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.

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.

PS Classics recorded a cast album of the new incarnation of the work.

Visit porgyandbessonbroadway.com.

View highlights from the Broadway production below: