Richard Rodgers Theatre, (1/12/2012 - 9/23/2012)

First Preview: Dec 17, 2011
Opening Date: Jan 12, 2012
Closing Date: Sep 23, 2012
Total Previews: 28
Total Performances: 293

Category: Musical, Opera, Revival, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Nederlander Organization (James M. Nederlander: Chairman; James L. Nederlander: President)

Produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Rebecca Gold, Howard Kagan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Brunish Trinchero/Lucio Simons TBC, Joseph & Matthew Deitch, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Terry Schnuck, Freitag Productions/Koenigsberg Filerman, The Leonore S. Gershwin 1987 Trust, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Ken Mahoney, Judith Resnick, Tulchin/Bartner/ATG, Paper Boy Productions, Christopher Hart, Alden Badway, Broadway Across America, Irene Gandy and Will Trice; Associate Producer: Ronald Frankel, James Fuld, Jr., Allan S. Gordon, INFINITY Stages, David & Barbara Stoller, Michael & Jean Strunsky, Theresa Wozunk and Shorenstein Hays Nederlander; Assistant Producer: Michael Crea

Originally produced by The American Repertory Theatre

Music by George Gershwin; Lyrics by DuBose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin; Adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray; Musical Director: Constantine Kitsopoulos; Music orchestrated by William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke

Directed by Diane Paulus; Choreographed by Ronald K. Brown; Associate Director: Nancy Harrington

Scenic Design by Riccardo Hernandez; Costume Design by ESosa; Lighting Design by Christopher Akerlind; Sound Design by Acme Sound Partners and Nevin Steinberg; Wig Design by J. Jared Janas and Rob Greene; Hair Design by J. Jared Janas and Rob Greene; Make-Up Design by J. Jared Janas and Rob Greene; Associate Scenic Design: Maruti Evans; Associate Costume Design: Cathy Parrott; Associate Lighting Design: Caroline Chao; Associate Sound Design: Jason Crystal

Company Manager: Bruce Klinger; General Manager: Richards / Climan, Inc.; Assistant Co. Mgr: Caitlin Fahey

Production Manager: Hudson Theatrical Associates; Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatrical Associates; Production Stage Manager: Nancy Harrington; Stage Manager: Julie Baldauff

Conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos; Associate Conductor: Paul Masse; Concert Master: Belinda Whitney; Woodwinds: Katherine Fink, Lynne Cohen, Steve Kenyon, Jonathan Levine and Jill M. Collura; Trumpets: Nick Marchione and Dan Urness; Trombone: Keith O'Quinn; Bass Trombone/Tuba: Jennifer Wharton; French Horns: R.J. Kelley and Eric Davis; Violins: Orlando Wells, Karl Kawahara and Philip Payton; Violas: Crystal Garner and Liuh-Wen Ting; Cellos: Sarah Seiver and Summer Boggess; Bass: Bill Ellison; Drums/Percussion: Charles Descarfino; Piano/Celeste: Paul Masse; Music Preparation: Larry Abel

Dance Captain: Lisa Nicole Wilkerson; Fight direction by J. Steven White; Dialect Coach: Denise L. Woods; Press Representative: Jeffrey Richards Associates and Alana Karpoff; Casting: Telsey + Company; Advertising: Serino Coyne; Website Design/Online Marketing: SPOTCo, Inc.; Interactive Marketing Service: Broadway's Best Shows; Photographer: Michael Lutch

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Opening Night Cast

David Alan GrierSporting Life
Norm LewisPorgy
Audra McDonaldBess
Allison BlackwellA Woman of Catfish Row
Phillip BoykinCrown
Roosevelt André CreditA Fisherman
Nikki Renée DanielsClara
Trevon DavisA Fisherman
Joseph DellgerPoliceman
(Dec 17, 2011 - Sep 16, 2012)
Wilkie FergusonA Fisherman
Joshua HenryJake
Heather HillA Woman of Catfish Row
Christopher InnvarDetective
(Dec 17, 2011 - Sep 16, 2012)
Andrea Jones-SojolaStrawberry Woman
Alicia Hall MoranA Woman of Catfish Row
Cedric NealThe Crab Man
Bryonha Marie ParhamSerena
Phumzile SojolaPeter
The Honey Man
Nathaniel StampleyRobbins
J.D. WebsterMingo
The Undertaker
Lisa Nicole WilkersonA Woman of Catfish Row
NaTasha Yvette WilliamsMariah

Swings: Sumayya Ali, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Gavin Gregory, David Hughey and Julius Thomas III

Understudies: Sumayya Ali (Bess, Clara, Serena, Strawberry Woman), Allison Blackwell (Mariah), Trevon Davis (Jake), Joseph Dellger, Wilkie Ferguson (Robbins, The Crab Man), Carmen Ruby Floyd (Mariah), Gavin Gregory (Crown, Sporting Life), Heather Hill (Strawberry Woman), David Hughey (A Fisherman, Jake, Robbins, Sporting Life), Andrea Jones-Sojola (Clara, Serena), Alicia Hall Moran (Bess), Phumzile Sojola (Robbins), Nathaniel Stampley (Crown, Porgy) and Julius Thomas III (A Fisherman, Mingo, Peter, The Crab Man)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 2012 Best Revival of a Musical [winner] 

Produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Rebecca Gold, Howard Kagan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Brunish Trinchero/Lucio Simons TBC, Joseph & Matthew Deitch, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Terry Schnuck, Freitag Productions/Koenigsberg Filerman, The Leonore S. Gershwin 1987 Trust, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Ken Mahoney, Judith Resnick, Tulchin/Bartner/ATG, Paper Boy Productions, Christopher Hart, Alden Badway, Broadway Across America, Irene Gandy and Will Trice; Originally produced by The American Repertory Theatre

 2012 Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical [nominee] 

Norm Lewis

winner 2012 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical [winner] 

Audra McDonald

 2012 Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical [nominee] 

Phillip Boykin

 2012 Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical [nominee] 

David Alan Grier

 2012 Best Direction of a Musical [nominee] 

Diane Paulus

 2012 Best Orchestrations [nominee] 

William David Brohn

 2012 Best Orchestrations [nominee] 

Christopher Jahnke

 2012 Best Costume Design of a Musical [nominee] 

ESosa

 2012 Best Lighting Design of a Musical [nominee] 

Christopher Akerlind

 2012 Best Sound Design of a Musical [nominee] 

Sound Design by Acme Sound Partners

Drama Desk Award

 2012 Outstanding Revival of a Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Rebecca Gold, Howard Kagan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Brunish Trinchero/Lucio Simons TBC, Joseph & Matthew Deitch, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Terry Schnuck, Freitag Productions/Koenigsberg Filerman, The Leonore S. Gershwin 1987 Trust, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Ken Mahoney, Judith Resnick, Tulchin/Bartner/ATG, Paper Boy Productions, Alden Badway, Broadway Across America, Irene Gandy and Will Trice

 2012 Outstanding Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Norm Lewis

winner 2012 Outstanding Actress in a Musical [winner] 

Audra McDonald

 2012 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Phillip Boykin

winner 2012 Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical [winner] 

Sound Design by Acme Sound Partners

Theatre World

winner 2012 Award [recipient] 

Phillip Boykin

Songs



ACT 1 Sung By
Summertime
(music by George Gershwin; lyrics by Ira Gershwin )
Clara and Jake
A Woman Is a Sometime ThingJake and Ensemble
Crap Game
(music by George Gershwin; lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward )
Ensemble
Gone, Gone, GoneEnsemble
My Man's Gone NowSerena
Leaving for the Promised Land
(music by George Gershwin; lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward )
Bess and Ensemble
It Takes a Long PullJake and Ensemble
I Got Plenty of Nothing
(music by George Gershwin; lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward )
Porgy
I Hates Your Strutting Style
(music by George Gershwin; lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward )
Mariah
Bess, You Is My Woman NowPorgy and Bess
Oh I Can't Sit DownEnsemble
ACT 2 Sung By
It Ain't Necessarily SoSporting Life and Ensemble
What You Want With Bess?Bess and Crown
Oh, Doctor JesusSerena and Ensemble
Street CriesStrawberry Woman, Peter (The Honey Man) and The Crab Man
I Loves You, PorgyBess and Porgy
Oh, The Lord Shake the Heaven
(music by George Gershwin; lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward )
Ensemble
A Red Headed WomanCrown and Ensemble
Clara, Don't You Be DownheartedEnsemble
There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon
(music by George Gershwin; lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward )
Sporting Life
Where's My Bess?Porgy, Mariah and Serena
I'm On My WayPorgy and Ensemble

Reviews


AP: "A reworked 'Porgy and Bess' is rich and luscious"

In the end, "Porgy and Bess" didn't need anyone coming to its rescue after all.

A gorgeous version of the American stage classic opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Thursday for the first time in more than three decades with plenty of hand-wringing that this updated version led by director Diane Paulus and playwright Suzan-Lori Parks was messing with a Gershwin masterpiece.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Paulus and Parks have protected and cared for this theatrical baby as well as the actors on stage coo over Clara's swaddled infant boy. The controversy? Plenty of nothing.

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis lead this reconception of life in Depression-era Catfish Row and the fact that subtle changes have been made are clear as soon as Lewis appears using a cane to navigate across the stage with his malformed, twisted left leg – and not the goat cart of old.

Purists upset to hear about this artistic travesty – good grief, no goat cart?! – should leave the theater immediately. The rest of us can then sit back and enjoy a first-rate cast give life to one of America's greatest love triangles and hear beautiful songs such as "Summertime" and "Bess, You Is My Woman Now."

Besides a terrific McDonald and Lewis, the cast also includes Phillip Boykin, who plays a fearsome Crown (physically he looks like a tank) and David Alan Grier is surprisingly wonderful as the funny, slithery, "lowlife buzzard" Sporting Life. The lovely Nikki Renee Daniels and the always-welcomed Joshua Henry play the doomed couple Clara and Jake and leave us wanting to see and hear more.

The production, which had a tryout run at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., in late summer, began when the estates of songwriting team George and Ira Gershwin and wordsmiths DuBose and Dorothy Heyward began seeking a team to change the dated 1935 opera to fit commercial Broadway.

Paulus and Parks have indeed made it more musical than opera, though they haven't expunged all the recitative, transforming it into more of a hybrid that takes some getting used, especially when opera emerges from one character and the reply comes in musical theater.

While it was in Massachusetts, there was talk of possibly changing the ending and deepening characters, which triggered a cranky Stephen Sondheim to criticize the project – one he had not yet seen, mind you – for disrespecting its elders. The ending has remained the same, but the characters have been deepened.

In fact, McDonald has disfigured her beauty with a scar that runs ominously across her left cheek, as much a sign of Bess' sordid past as a nod to the battles she's endured in this production, now called "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess."

At one point, Porgy sings to Bess, "You're gonna outshine every woman in this town," and McDonald does just that, giving Bess a hard exterior at the beginning, a soft, schoolgirl side at the town picnic, a hellcat when fighting and a sad emptiness when she feels she must leave. All the while, she conveys the awful pull on her generated by Sporting Life's "magic dust." At one point, McDonald even sings while lying down following a bout of delirium.

It's a stunning performance – as much visceral as presentational. Her scenes with Porgy toward the end are tender without being mushy and her whole body seems to go to war as she fends off Crown's attempted rape.

Lewis' Porgy is proud but determined and the way he winces across the stage conveys his daily pain all too well. His Porgy knows Bess is out of his league, which makes his attempt to better himself – to be a "natural man" with a brace – even more heartbreaking. Lewis' deep, rich voice melds nicely with McDonald's, and their "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" is a triumph. In this duet, as in the plaintive "I Loves You, Porgy," the two go beyond merely singing a tune: They reach inside and act the songs with a powerful honesty and intensity.

And Grier, known more for his comedy in such shows as "In Living Color," struts and pimp-walks in his ESosa-designed spats and stripped suits with an air of manipulative danger and literally swings off stage a few times. He sings pretty well, too.

One odd touch to this production is the single, unadorned set, an abstract vision of Catfish Row by Riccardo Hernandez that is made up simply of large weathered wooden boards hinting at a downtrodden town square around a working water pump. It's a little underwhelming, especially when a huge sheet is tacked up to show that the action has moved to an island.

Lighting designer Christopher Akerlind manages to bathe everything in a rich golden light that is evocative of a lost time. His handling of the hurricane is appropriately scary, especially the frightened shadows of the cast he throws on the back wall.

Some of the little touches Paulus and Parks have done here are wonderful, not least the reprises of "Summertime," one of which manages to make it absolutely chilling. The only white characters – two meddling cops – are made brutal without being overdone.

Speaking of overdone, any criticism of this production is sure to disappear as soon as it's seen. Paulus and Parks have tightened and tweaked and beautifully improved the original opera. You won't miss the goat cart.


AP
01/12/2012

Replacement/Transfer Info


The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.


Richard Rodgers Theatre

(1/12/2012 - 9/23/2012)

Cast

Dan Barnhill
Policeman (Sep 18, 2012 - ?)
Joseph Dellger
Detective (Sep 18, 2012 - ?)



Understudies: Dan Barnhill (Detective), Gavin Gregory (A Fisherman), Heather Hill (Serena), Cedric Neal (Sporting Life), Phumzile Sojola (Porgy).


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