A.R.T. artistic director Diane Paulus, a Tony Award nominee for the 2008 revival of Hair, is staging the Broadway-bound production, which re-imagines the traditionally sung-through, four-hour opera, as a two-and-a-half-hour musical with dialogue for contemporary audiences.
Billed as The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, the new staging has enlisted Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Book of Grace) and Pulitzer Prize nominee Diedre Murray (Running Man) to offer back story and fresh perspective into the inhabitants of Catfish Row.
Here's a first look at The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess:
Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald Star in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess at A.R.T.
Porgy and Bess will open Aug. 31 at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, MA, for a run through Oct. 2. It will then transfer to Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre Dec. 17 towards a Jan. 12, 2012, opening night. Tony-winning producers Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel co-present the engagement with A.R.T.
Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) stars as Porgy opposite four-time Tony Award winner McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine, Master Class) as Bess. They are joined by two-time Tony nominee David Alan Grier (The First, Race, Dreamgirls) as Sportin' Life and Tony nominee Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys) as Jake.
The cast also includes 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 features Allison Blackwell, Roosevelt Andre Credit, Trevon Davis, Joseph Dellger, Wilkie Ferguson, Alicia Hall Moran, Andrea Jones-Sojola, and Lisa Nicole Wilkerson. The Coroner is played by Joseph Dellger.
Porgy and Bess has music by George Gershwin, lyrics by his brother Ira and a book by DuBose Heyward; 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."
According to A.R.T., "This classic American tale tells the story of the beautiful and troubled Bess, who turns to Porgy, the crippled beggar, in search of safety after her possessive lover Crown commits murder. As Porgy and Bess’s love grows, their future is threatened by Crown and the conniving Sportin' Life."
For tickets to the A.R.T. run, visit AmericanRepertoryTheater. A.R.T. is located at 64 Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA.
Tickets for the Broadway engagement go on sale to the general public Sept. 12 via Ticketmaster.com.