New PORGY AND BESS Musical Adaptation (with Audra!)

Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald as photographed by Jesse Frohman

Which part is the real news here? That Diane Paulus, Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray are adapting the classic George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward opera, Porgy and Bess, as a contemporary-styled musical theatre piece? That the producers are Hair alumni Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, which might mean that the show – set to bow at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in September – might be aiming for Broadway at the end of the 2011/2012 season? Or that Audra McDonald, who is leaving Private Practice, is in talks to star as Bess?

It all sounds pretty good to me. When the announcement regarding the production was made, Paulus said that the team (which also includes choreographer Ronald K. Brown, set designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Emilio Sosa and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind) was hoping ‘to create a version of Porgy and Bess that will have a unique identity as a musical’:

Diane Paulus said:
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.

Parks assured that the ‘approach is fresh and respectful’, with the team ‘working to retain all the best-loved elements of the original while crafting a piece that speaks to contemporary audiences.’

Let’s hope it all works out…

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