The 2012 Tony Award Winner for Best Revival of a Musical, The Gershwins' PORGY AND BESS will conclude its limited engagement at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street) today, September 23, 2012. The Gershwins' PORGY AND BESS began previews on Saturday, December 17, 2012, and officially opened on January 12, 2012. Upon closing, it will have played 322 performances. Below, BroadwayWorld takes you on a multimedia journey through the life of the longest-running production of Porgy and Bess to ever play on Broadway.
PORGY AND BESS on Broadway has a cast led by five-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald (Ragtime, "Private Practice") as Bess, Tony nominee Norm Lewis (Les Misérables, Sondheim on Sondheim) as Porgy and three-time Tony nominee David Alan Grier (Race, "In Living Color") as Sporting Life. The cast also includes Tony nominee Phillip Boykin as Crown, Nikki Renée Daniels as Clara, Joshua Henry as Jake, Christopher Innvar as Detective, Bryonha Marie Parham as Serena and NaTasha Yvette Williams as Mariah, as well as Sumayya Ali, Allison Blackwell, Roosevelt André Credit, Trevon Davis, Joseph Dellger, Wilkie Ferguson III, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Gavin Gregory, Heather Hill, David Hughey, Andrea Jones-Sojola, Alicia Hall Moran, Cedric Neal, Phumzile Sojola, Nathaniel Stampley, Julius Thomas III, J.D. Webster and Lisa Nicole Wilkerson.
The creative team also includes choreographer Ronald K. Brown, set designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer ESosa, lighting designer Christopher Akerlind and sound designer ACME Sound Partners.
Following its sold-out world premiere engagement at Boston's American Repertory Theater, one of Broadway's most accomplished creative teams, led by Tony-nominated director Diane Paulus (Hair), Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog), and two-time Obie Award-winning composer Diedre L. Murray (Running Man), brings George and Ira Gershwin's legendary masterwork to the Broadway stage for the first time in more than 35 years.
In August 2011, leading up to PORGY AND BESS' first performances in Boston, theatre legend Stephen Sondheim made some choice remarks about director Diane Paulus' new vision for the production as it was described in an article by The New York Times. He took issue specifically with Paulus' new "final scene," which gave the musical a more upbeat ending.
Sondheim wrote: "I can hear the outraged cries now about stifling creativity and discouraging directors who want to reinterpret plays and musicals in order to bring 'fresh perspectives,' as they are wont to say, but there is a difference between reinterpretation and wholesale rewriting. Nor am I judging this production in advance, only the attitude of its creators toward the piece and the audience. Perhaps it will be wonderful."
With that send-off, the show began performances in its pre-Broadway run at the American Repertory Theater. After playing a record-breaking, sold out engagement in Cambridge, The Gershwins' PORGY AND BESS began previews on Broadway on December 17, 2011, and opened on Thursday, January 12th, 2012, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The new "final scene" was not part of the Broadway production.
Scroll down for photos from PORGY AND BESS on Broadway, as well as the full (and "wow"-worthy) video preview and images from the opening night Curtain Call!
A long-standing opening night tradition on the Great White Way, the fabled Gypsy Robe is bestowed upon a veteran Broadway chorus member for each opening production. In what has now become a theatrical ritual, originating on Broadway 60 years ago, THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS recipient was cast member J.D. Webster.
Leading up to the 2012 Tony Awards, there was some question over whether David Alan Grier would be eligible as a featured actor for a nomination, as well as whether the updated book (by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray) could be considered for the "Best Book of a Musical" category, technically being part of a revival and not an original production. Grier was granted the go-ahead. The book was not.
When the day came, The Gershwins' PORGY AND BESS was nominated for ten Tony Awards, including Best Revivial of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical and is Actress counterpart.
BroadwayWorld's Richard Ridge was thrilled to sit down and speak with nearly all of the year's Tony Award nominees at the official Tony Brunch on May 2, 2012. In the video interviews below, Ridge speaks with Audra McDonald, nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, Norm Lewis, nominee for Best Actor in a Musical, David Alan Grier, nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Phillip Boykin, nominee for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and Diane Paulus, nominated for Best Direction of a Musical.
On June 10, McDonald took home her 5th Tony Award for for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her role of 'Bess' in The Gershwins' PORGY AND BESS. Though we'd think she'd be used to the feeling of winning by now, McDonald spoke with BroadwayWorld just moments after her win only to reveal how it still felt "out of body."
With PORGY AND BESS closing today, the team that brough George and Ira Gershwin's legendary masterwork to the Broadway stage for the first time in more than 35 years should be celebrating an equally legendary revival run. Following Broadway, The Gershwins' PORGY AND BESS will begin a national tour, set to launch in the Fall of 2013.