Audra McDonald Out of Porgy and Bess With Vocal Inflammation

News   Audra McDonald Out of Porgy and Bess With Vocal Inflammation
Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald has been put on complete vocal rest under doctor's orders and will be out of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess through the end of June, producers announced June 20.

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald Photo by Michael Wilson

"As a result of performing with a respiratory infection last week, her vocal cords have become inflamed to a point where she cannot sing," representatives said in a June 20 statement. McDonald is scheduled to return to the production July 3.

In McDonald's absence, her understudy, actress Alicia Hall Moran, will perform the role of Bess.

McDonald recently won her fifth Tony Award for playing Bess in the revival of the Gershwin opera that opened Jan. 12 and is playing an extended engagement through Sept. 30.

"A singer is both a musician and an athlete. Just like a pitcher can’t throw with a sprained wrist, a singer cannot perform with inflamed vocal cords. And while medical treatments are part of the process, a proper recovery is also dependent upon rest. This is Audra’s current dilemma. No one is more frustrated and disappointed than she is that she will be out of the show through the end of June, but she must adhere to her doctor’s orders," said McDonald's spokesperson, Sean Michael Gross, in a statement.

Diane Paulus directed the production that won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. It has been streamlined into a two-and-a-half presentation by Paulus, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and musical adaptor Diedre Murray.  Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis (Side Show, Les Miserables) stars as Porgy in a cast that also features 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.

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.

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."

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."

For tickets, visit The Richard Rodgers Theatre is located at 226 West 46th Street.


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