"Where Is My Bess?": Audra McDonald Temporarily Sidelined from Porgy and Bess

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15 Mar 2012

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

A sinus infection has temporarily sidelined Tony Award winner Audra McDonald from the Broadway revival of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess since March 11, representatives for the actress confirmed to Playbill.com.

The four-time Tony Award winner has been battling a sinus infection the past week and is determining her return to the production one day at a time, according to her representatives. "[She] looks forward to returning to Porgy and Bess as soon as she is fully recovered," representatives said in a statement to Playbill.com.

McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine, Master Class) is not expected to return to the production for the March 15 evening performance at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. She earned acclaim for her performance as Bess in the newly revised production that opened to strong reviews Jan. 12.

Norm Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) stars as Porgy opposite McDonald as Bess. The principal 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 is playing an extended 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.