Alexis Rogers, Todd M. Kryger, Sean Blake Will Bring Porgy and Bess to Life at Chicago's Court

News   Alexis Rogers, Todd M. Kryger, Sean Blake Will Bring Porgy and Bess to Life at Chicago's Court
The new Court Theatre production of George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward's folk music Porgy and Bess has its title lovers. The all-Chicago cast will be headed by Alexis Rogers (The Piano Lesson) as Bess and Todd M. Kryger (Disney's The Lion King, Ragtime, Show Boat) as Porgy.

This new intimate, 15-person cast also includes Karla Beard (Serena), Bear Bellinger (Peter), Sean Blake (Sportin' Life), James Earl Jones II (Crown), Brian-Alwyn Newland (Robbins), Harriet Nzinga Plumpp (Clara), Kelvin Roston, Jr. (Jim), Bethany Thomas (Maria), Travis Turner (Mingo), Adrienne Walker (Annie), Byron Glenn Willis (Jake), Matt Holzfeind (Ensemble) and Joelle Lamarre (Ensemble).

Porgy and Bess is directed by artistic director Charles Newell, with artistic consultant Ron OJ Parson and musical direction by Doug Peck.

Court Theatre in Chicago will present the classic about lovers in the American South — with music by George Gershwin, book by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and lyrics by Ira Gershwin — May 12-June 19 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue. Opening night is May 21.

According to Court notes, "Porgy and Bess remains George Gershwin's magnum opus, with an unforgettable score. Coming off their 2008 Jeff Award-winning production of Caroline, or Change, Charles Newell and Doug Peck come face-to-face with one of the greatest — and most controversial — pieces of American musical theatre ever created. Often denounced as a racially insensitive portrayal of black Southerners, Newell and Peck, in collaboration with resident artist Ron OJ Parson, will present a thoughtful, never-before-seen retelling of Gershwins' and Heywards' 'folk opera' Porgy and Bess, a classic but contested piece of American theatre history."

Court artistic director Newell said in a statement, "Our casting standards for Porgy and Bess were incredibly high. Gershwin's music is difficult for even the most seasoned opera singer, so every cast member had to prove to music director Doug Peck their ability to handle the musical demands of the score. On top of that, each had to demonstrate an ability to access a depth of emotional storytelling that few actors in musical theatre, much less opera, are ever called on to reach. The cast we secured, led by the fabulous Todd Kryger and Alexis Rogers, is truly one of the most exceptional ever assembled at Court Theatre." For more information, visit


Court Theatre is the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago.

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