The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
A.R.T. Season
August 17, 2011 through October 2, 2011

In 1935, Porgy and Bess premiered at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. Now, 76 years later, the A.R.T. brings back Porgy and Bess in a new production. This classic American tale is set in the 1930s in Catfish Row, a neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina. Bess, beautiful and troubled, 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 Sporting Life. This heartbreaking love story boasts some of the most famous and beloved works from the Great American Songbook, including: “Summertime,” “Bess, You Is My Woman,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So" and “I Loves You, Porgy.”

Click here for the interactive Guide to The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess!

Porgy and Bess, from Opera to Musical: 

Getting to the Heart of the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

'Porgy and Bess' reimagined at the ART

Creative team
By

George GershwinDuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin

Adapted by

Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre L. Murray

Directed by Diane Paulus
Choreography by Ronald K. Brown
Scenic Design Riccardo Hernandez
Costume Design ESosa
Lighting Design Christopher Akerlind
Sound Design ACME Sound Partners
Orchestrations William David Brohn & Christopher Jahnke
Wig Design J. Jared Janas & Rob Greene
Music Supervisor David Loud
Conductor Sheilah Walker
Associate Conductor Brian Hertz
Associate Director/Production Stage Manager Nancy Harrington*
Casting Telsey + Company
   

Cast

 
Bess Audra McDonald*
Porgy Norm Lewis*
Sporting Life David Alan Grier*
Jake Joshua Henry*
Crown Phillip Boykin*
Mariah NaTasha Yvette Williams*
Clara Nikki Renée Daniels*
Serena Bryonha Marie Parham*
Frazier, the Crab Man Cedric Neal*
Mingo, the Undertaker J.D. Webster*
Robbins Nathaniel Stampley*
Peter, the Honey Man Phumzile Sojola*
Lily Heather Hill*

Strawberry Woman

Andrea Jones-Sojola*
Fishermen Trevon Davis*
Wilkie Ferguson*
Roosevelt André Credit*
Women of Catfish Row Alicia Hall Moran*
Allison Blackwell
Lisa Nicole Wilkerson
Policeman Joseph Dellger*
Detective Christopher Innvar*
   

Orchestra

 
Violin Sasha Callahan
Viola Ashleigh Gordon
Cello Leo Eguchi
Bass Joe Higgins
Piano/Celeste Brian Hertz
Flute/Piccolo Ebonee Thomas
Oboe/English Horn Mie Shiraishi
Clarinet/Flute/ Alto Sax Bob Bowlby

Clarinet/ Bass Clarinet/
Alto & Tenor Sax

Peter Cokkinias
Horn 1 Roslyn Black
Horn 2 Diantha Millott
Trumpet 1/ Flugelhorn John Replogle
Trumpet 2/ Flugelhorn Greg Smith
Trombone Martin Wittenberg
Tuba/Bass Trombone Don Robinson
Tenor Sax/ Bari Sax/ Bassoon Greg Newton
Accordion Roberto Cassan
Percussion Robert Schulz
   

Additional Staff

 
Stage Manager Julie Baldauff*
Asst. Stage Manager Sharika Niles*
Dramaturgy Ryan McKittrick, Jenna Clark Embrey
Asst. Director Mia Walker
Asst. Choreographer Arcell Cabuag
Asst. Set Designers Maruti Evans, Andrew Boyce
Asst. Costume Designer Ashley Farra
Orchestra Coordinator Neil Grover
Rehearsal Pianist David F. Coleman
Music Preparation Larry Abel, Supervising Copyist
Music Preparation International
Music Intern Neil Reilly & Nehemiah Luckett
Dialect Coach Denise L. Woods
   

Porgy and Bess Interns

 
Directing Charlotte Alter
Music Haley Bennett
Artistic Andrew Boyd
Jacob Brandt
Stage Managment Kayla Ixtlahuac
Dramaturgy Lily Karlin
Costume Margaret Kerr
Production Anh Marie Le
Elizabeth Yun Yeng Mak
Marketing Katherine Olaskiewicz
   
(*) members of Actors Equity Association  

 

It is hard to come up with another American company whose creative footprint at the moment is making such a deep impression on the country’s theater.  More

“Porgy and Bess,” a show about black people, created entirely by white people, has never been a favorite of black audience. Diane Paulus’s great achievement is to cut through Heyward’s muddy folklore and to present us with us something more profound. Her Porgy (the beautiful Norm Lewis) and Bess are not archetypal “black lovers”; they are a man and a woman, human beings who are not defined by their race.  By ridding the script of its sociological and anthropological strain, Paulus allows us to see the people and, perforce, to hear the music. More

The Paulus-Parks Porgy is a streamlined, intimate, musically ravishing show.....faithful to what counts most - Gershwin's lush, bluesy, irreplacable score.  That makes it a revival not to hound but to hail. More

“Greater Boston” takes an in-depth look at the production and talks to the cast and creative team of Porgy and Bess to find out their opinions on the changes made to the piece. The special feature also captures a glimpse into the production that currently plays at the Loeb Drama Center and offers a series of extended interviews with McDonald, Lewis and director Paulus. More

Here and Now host Robin Young interviews Norm Lewis, playing Porgy in 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess' at the A.R.T.  More

This stunning adaptation of the Gershwin classic is the most extraordinary shows productions Boston has ever seen. The production unfolds almost magically, thanks to flawless lighting, glorious orchestrations, stellar vocals and an immensely talented ensemble. More

 
 

The first strains of “Summertime” sent chills through my skin. Lullabying the baby in her arms, Nikki Rene Daniels’ Clara lilted the lyric, “and you’re mama’s good lookin’,” with a boastful half grin. Oh yeah, she’s the good lookin’ mama. I had never gotten the joke before. Instantly, the familiar pop song was transformed into the expressions of a new mother with fresh and urgent feelings to convey. That kind of move characterizes this production.  It’s full of strong acting choices that pull you into the play’s present and invest Gershwin’s sublime score with specific, immediate drama. More

Director Diane Paulus puts the “revive” in “revival,” staging a lovely, engaging, heartfelt production of “Porgy and Bess,” a musical that, to paraphrase Mark Twain’s description of a classic, everybody praises but no one ever stages.
  More

Dear Mr. Sondheim. It ain't necessarily so. While purists, pundits, preservationists and scholars may have qualms about the revised production of The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess which had its official pre-Broadway press opening at the A.R.T. in Cambridge, Mass. on August 31, mere mortals who have no preconceived notions of how the work "should" be presented are in for a thrilling night of musical theater. Powerful, imaginative, and gloriously cast, this intimate yet soaring Porgy and Bess is both timeless and full of life. More

So shoot me, Porgy purists. To my mind, the retooling of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess for American Repertory Theater, intended to make the iconic folk opera work as a Broadway show, is compelling enough to push past quibbles. And in Audra McDonald it boasts a Bess as pained as she wrestles her devils as she is languorous and melodious in her delivery of the music. When on opening night she and Norm Lewis entwined their voices around "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," toward the end of the first act (there are only two), I thought I'd died and gone to some auditory equivalent of the Promised Land those denizens of Catfish Row keep singing about. More

Pages

Press Releases

Productions developed at the A.R.T. in 2011 recieve 10 Tony Awards Cambridge, MA – The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) is proud to announce that The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, produced during the A.R.T.’s 2011/12 Season and nominated for 10 Tony... More
For immediate release June 30, 2011 (revised August 1)   Contact: Kati Mitchell 617-496-2000x8841   kati_mitchell@harvard.edu   American Repertory Theater Opens the 2011-12 Season with a musical theater... More
For immediate Release April 15, 2011Contact: Kati Mitchell 617-496-2000 x8841kati_mitchell@harvard.edu American Repertory Theater Announces Company Casting forThe Gershwins' Porgy and BessCo-starring... More
For Immediate Release April 6, 2011Contact: Kati Mitchell 617-595-2668kati_mitchell@harvard.edu A.R.T. ANNOUNCES MAJOR CASTING FORTHE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS:AUDRA McDONALDNORM LEWIS & DAVID ALAN... More
For Immediate ReleaseContact: Anna Fitzloffanna_fitzloff@harvard.edu617-496-2000 ext. 8906 Creative Team to Re-imagine Porgy and BessProduction to Open American Repertory Theater’s 2011-2012 Season  ... More

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Venue

64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

High-res image:
High-res image:
Venue Map

Need to know

American Sign Language interpreted performances:

Tuesday, 9/6 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, 9/11 at 2:00 pm

Email the Box Office to reserve ASL-accessible seats.

 

Please note, Audra McDonald will not perform on October 1 and 2.

This performance is suitable for ages 10 and over.

Access

Accessibilty
Assistive Listening Devices
Large Print Programs

Post-performance discussions were held after the following matinee performances:

Saturday
9/17
9/24

Wednesday
9/7
9/14
9/21
9/28