PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: A Two-Show Day at Broadway's Porgy and Bess With Bryonha Parham
By Matthew Blank
Spend a two-show day at The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess on Broadway, starring Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald. Bryonha Parham, who stops the show with her rendition of "My Man's Gone Now," takes Playbill.com through a busy day with the residents of Catfish Row.
Armed with a digital camera, Parham takes readers on a tour of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, introducing the many talented people who make the show happen eight times a week and offering an extensive look at the tight-knit ensemble's daily routines.
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.
Norm Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) stars as the crippled beggar Porgy opposite four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine, Master Class) as Bess.
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."
For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com. The Richard Rodgers Theatre is located at 226 West 46th Street.
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