A.R.T. American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) opens its 2011-12 season with The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin tonight, August 31. The adaptation by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and Obie Award-winning composer Diedre L. Murray, directed by A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus, with choreography by Ronald K. Brown, began previews on August 17. The production will begin previews at the Richard Rogers Theatre on December 17, 2011 in anticipation of a January 12, 2012 Broadway opening.
New production photos have been released and BroadwayWorld brings you a look below!
Led by Audra McDonald as Bess and Norm Lewis as Porgy, the Company includes David Alan Grier as Sporting Life, Joshua Henry as Jake, Phillip Boykin as Crown, Nikki Renée Daniels as Clara, 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, Nathaniel Stampley as Robbins, Joseph Dellger as the Coroner, and Christopher Innvar as the Detective. The ensemble also includes Allison Blackwell, Roosevelt André Credit, Trevon Davis, Joseph Dellger, Wilkie Ferguson, Alicia Hall Moran, Andrea Jones-Sojola, and Lisa Nicole Wilkerson.
THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS began its life as DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy, which he and his wife Dorothy Heyward adapted into a play. George Gershwin wanted to write an American opera - a piece that would infuse classical musical tradition with what he considered the vigor of blues and jazz, two distinctly American musical forms. He found in Porgy the perfect vehicle, and with Heyward as librettist and Ira Gershwin as lyricist, Gershwin's new opera had its premiere in Boston's Colonial Theater on September 30, 1935. Broadway performances followed featuring a cast of classically trained African-American singers - a daring and visionary artistic choice at the time.
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. The heartbreaking love story is set in the late 1930s in Catfish Row, a neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina and boasts some of the most famous and beloved works from the Great American Songbook including "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "It Ain't Necessarily So," and "I Loves You, Porgy."
Creating a new version of Gershwin's renowned Porgy and Bess is a privilege bestowed upon Diane Paulus and the A.R.T by the estates of George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward in their desire to take the work from the opera house to the musical stage and its popular roots. The new production maintains the original setting and includes all of the great and beloved songs.
Set design is by Riccardo Hernandez (Il Postino at LA Opera, Washington Opera, and Le Chatelet, Paris; numerous productions at A.R.T.), costume design by Project Runway finalist ESosa, lighting design by Christopher Akerlind (Tony Award for The Light in the Piazza; The Seagull, Britannicus and others at A.R.T.), sound by ACME Sound Partners, and casting by Telsey + Company. Orchestration is by William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, the Music Supervisor is David Loud, and the conductor is Sheilah Walker.
This production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess is being presented in association with Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel.
For further information call 617-547-8300 or visit http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org
Photo Credit: Michael J. Lutch