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Full Cast Announced for THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS at A.R.T.

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A.R.T. American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) opens its 2011-12 season with The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin. The adaptation by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and Obie Award-winning composer Diedre L. Murray, directed by A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus, with choreography by Ronald K. Brown, begins previews on August 17 and opens for the reviewing press on August 31 at 7pm. Performances are at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge. Tickets for preview performances are currently on sale, remaining tickets for the run go on sale on July 12.

Led by Audra McDonald as Bess and Norm Lewis as Porgy, the Company includes David Alan Grier as Sporting Life, Joshua Henry as Jake, Phillip Boykin as Crown, Nikki Renee Daniels as Clara, Bryonha Marie Parham as Serena, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Maria, Cedric Neal as Frazier, J.D. Webster as Mingo, Heather Hill as Lily, Phumzile Sojola as Peter, and Nathaniel Stampley as Robbins. The ensemble also includes Allison Blackwell, Roosevelt Andre Credit, Trevon Davis, Joseph Dellger, Wilkie Ferguson, Alicia Hall Moran, Andrea Jones-Sojola, and Lisa Nicole Wilkerson; the Coroner is Joseph Dellger.

THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS began its life as DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy, which he and his wife Dorothy Heyward adapted into a play. George Gershwin wanted to write an American opera — a piece that would infuse classical musical tradition with what he considered the vigor of blues and jazz, two distinctly American musical forms. He found in Porgy the perfect vehicle, and with Heyward as librettist and Ira Gershwin as lyricist, Gershwin's new opera had its premiere in Boston's Colonial Theater on September 30, 1935. Broadway performances followed featuring a cast of classically trained African-American singers — a daring and visionary artistic choice at the time.

This classic American tale tells the story of the beautiful and troubled Bess, who 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 Sportin' Life. The heartbreaking love story is set in the late 1930s in Catfish Row, a neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina and boasts some of the most famous and beloved works from the Great American Songbook including “Summertime,” “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So," and “I Loves You, Porgy.”

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