Complete Casting Announced for London Porgy and Bess

Complete casting has been announced for Trevor Nunn's abridged London staging of the Gershwin classic Porgy and Bess.

Trimmed down by Nunn from four hours to two and a half, Porgy and Bess will begin performances at the Savoy Theatre in London on October 25th and open on November 9th. 

In addition to the previously announced Clarke Peters (The Iceman Cometh, Chicago) as Porgy, Nicola Hughes (Fosse, Damn Yankees in London) as Bess, Cornell John (Les Miserables, The Full Monty in London) as Crown, Dawn Hope (Simply Heavenly, Ain't Misbehavin') as Serena, and OT Fagbenle (Six Degrees of Separation) as Sportin' Life, the show will feature Melanie Marshall as Maria, with Lorraine Velez, Edward Baruwa, Des Coleman, Sam Douglas, Harry Ditson, Maurey Richards, Wendy Mae Brown, Julian Cannonier, Ian Carlyle, Cavin Cornwall, Ruby King, Hannah Levane, Yolanda Grant-Thompson, Anton Stephans, Ewart James Walters, Josie Benson, Phillip Browne, Glenn Conroy, Chris Copeland, Lewis Davies, Nolan Frederick, Paul Isles, Holly James, Leroy Ricardo Jones, Stephen Lester, A.J. Lewis, George Daniel Long, Sandra Marvin, Nathaniel Morrison, Terel Nugent, Ngo Omene-Ngofa, Lisa Davina Phillip, and Emi Wokoma.

Tony Award-winner Nunn (The Woman in White, Les Miserables)--who helmed an acclaimed production of Porgy and Bess at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1986--has adapted the opera into the musical The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.  ."..About three years ago, he said, he approached the Gershwin estate with the idea of turning the opera into a musical by fashioning a book out of the 1925 novel, the subsequent play and the opera's libretto by DuBose Heyward (whose wife, Dorothy, co-wrote the play) and some other historical materials. The estate approved of his version, and he has invited members of the Gershwin family along for the process, including a workshop last year," stated an earlier New York Times article. 

Frankel/Viertel/Baruch/Routh Group, and Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theater Group and Tulbart Productions will produce the London production, which is capitalized for $5 million.  They will also handle the Broadway transfer, for which a theatre and dates have not yet been announced.

Porgy and Bess, which features music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Heyward and Ira Gershwin and a book by Heyward (based on his and Dorothy Heyward's Porgy), concerns the romance between the title characters, two African-American denizens of poverty-stricken Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina.  Although the original 1935 run of Porgy and Bess ran for just 124 performances and was considered a disappointment by some critics, the "American folk opera" is now acclaimed as Gershwin's masterwork and is regularly performed by opera companies (it has also had five more productions on Broadway).

While the famous songs (such as "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" and "I Got Plenty O'Nuttin'") will be in place, composer/arranger Gareth Valentine has adapted some of the music.  Nunn has also expanded some of the spoken scenes and made some structural changes.

"Since I've done everything I can with the opera to underline its credentials, I hope I won't be perceived as someone who's doing an insensitive thing in attempting a different version, so that a wider public gets to appreciate this extraordinary music," Nunn told the Times.

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