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First Look At Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, David Alan Grier & Rest Of “Porgy & Bess” Revival Cast

First Look At Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, David Alan Grier & Rest Of "Porgy & Bess" Revival Cast

Despite musical theater god Stephen Sondheim’s majestic smack-down of this new revival, for what he feels are extreme reworkings of the original work (read his New York Times op-ed HERE), the show apparently still will go on…

Slated to bow at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA next month, this incarnation of the George Gershwin/DuBose Heyward opera Porgy and Bess, will also make its way to the bright lights of Broadway, starting on December 17th, with its official opening on January 12th, 2012, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

The American Repertory Theater cast ( Audra McDonald, David Alan Grier, Norm Lewis, Joshua Henry, Philip Boykin, and Trista Dollison) will also star in the Broadway run of the production.

Pultizer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks‘ (Topdog/Underdog) has teamed with Tony Award-nominated director Diane Paulus (Hair) to create this reworking.

The Gershwin and Heyward estates have given us the charge to create a version of Porgy and Bess that will have a unique identity as a musical… I am delighted to be working with Suzan-Lori Parks on making the characters in the story more fully realized. With one of the most incredible scores ever written, we want to bring Porgy and Bess to life on the musical stage in a way that feels essential, immediate, and passionate,”” said Paulus.

And Suzan-Lori Parks added, “Our approach is fresh and respectful; we’re working to retain all the best-loved elements of the original while crafting a piece that speaks to contemporary audiences.

I’m undoubtedly intrigued and curious to see what this ends up looking, sounding and feeling like.

The pictures included in this post give us our first look.

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Before I read HL Drake’s comment (below mine) I was full steam ahead to agree with Stephen Sondheim’s opinion. And to a large degree I still share his sentiments, especially the following.

Sondheim’s: “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”


Again, that’s were I was. I couldn’t believe the arrogance of the director and Andra McDonald in assuming they were speaking and thinking for the entire public. One statement stood out, something to the affect that the more contemporary audiences – of today – does not want to see a 3 hour production.

Personally I was even taken aback by one of the smaller changes; exchanging Porgy’s cart for a cane. I guess I am kind of a purist b/c I don’t even like people jazzing up the National Anthem, and lord knows I had a fuss over the recent proposed “changes” to A Street Car Name Desire (I’m not going there today).

So I was feeling The Wizard of Oz changed to Motown’s “OZ”. But then, RL Drake showed up, so what can I say now? I mean, they saw the play and apparently loved it to death. Maybe she will come back and share a few more details and if she had any problems with the play at all. There has to be something that didn‘t hit her love jones?

RL Drake

It’s an amazing show. Love the changes (actually less than changes, more like nudges) that Suzan-Lori Parks made. Diedre Murray’s work is so subtle and Ron Brown’s choreographer is just stunning. And then there’s the cast…it will be the show that is talked about in Boston for decades. it will be one of those that peeople will tell people they saw it, even if they weren’t able to get tickets. I saw one of the frist performances and will save my ticket stub to prove I was there.

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