Court Theatre Presents PORGY AND BESS 5/12-6/19


Court Theatre Artistic Director Charles Newell and Executive Director Stephen J. Albert present the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, directed by Artistic Director Charles Newell, with Artistic Consultant Ron OJ Parson and Musical Direction by Doug Peck. Porgy and Bess will run May 12-June 19, 2011 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Avenue. Press Opening is Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 8PM.

Porgy and Bess features an all-Chicago cast, including Alexis Rogers (The Piano Lesson) as Bess and Todd M. Kryger (Disney's The Lion King, Ragtime, Showboat) as Porgy. The 15-person cast also includes Karla Beard (Serena), Bear Bellinger (Peter), Sean Blake (Sportin' Life), James Earl Jones II (Crown), Brian-Alwyn Newland (Robbins), Harriet Nzinga Plumpp (Clara), Kelvin Roston, Jr. (Jim), Bethany Thomas (Maria), Travis Turner (Mingo), Adrienne Walker (Annie), Byron Glenn Willis (Jake), Matt Holzfeind (Ensemble) and Joelle Lamarre (Ensemble).

"Our casting standards for Porgy and Bess were incredibly high. Gerhswin's music is difficult for even the most seasoned opera singer, so every cast member had to prove to Music Director Doug Peck their ability to handle the musical demands of the score," says Newell. "On top of that, each had to demonstrate an ability to access a depth of emotional storytelling that few actors in musical theatre, much less opera, are ever called on to reach. The cast we secured, led by the fabulous Todd Kryger and Alexis Rogers, is truly one of the most exceptional ever assembled at Court Theatre."

Porgy and Bess remains George Gershwin's magnum opus, with an unforgettable score that includes songs ("Summertime," "It Ain't Necessarily So") later recorded by popular musicians from Billie Holiday to Ella Fitzgerald. Coming off their 2008 Jeff Award-winning production of Caroline, or Change, Charles Newell and Doug Peck come face-to-face with one of the greatest-and most controversial-pieces of American musical theater ever created. Often denounced as a racially insensitive portrayal of black southerners, Newell and Peck, in collaboration with Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson, will present a thoughtful, never-before-seen retelling of Gershwins' and Heywards' "folk opera" Porgy and Bess, a classic but contested piece of American theater history.

Title: Porgy and Bess
Directed by: Charles Newell
Music &
Lyrics by: George and Ira Gershwin
Libretto: DuBose and Dorothy Heyward
Direction by: Doug Peck
Dates: Previews: May 12 - May 20, 2011
Press opening: Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 8 PM
Regular run: May 22 - June 19, 2011
Schedule: Wednesdays & Thursdays: 7:30 p.m.
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 3:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
Sundays: 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Location: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.
Tickets: $35-$45 previews
$45-$65 regular run
Box Office: Located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472 or online

Now in its 56th season, Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.

Court Theatre is the professional theatre in residence at the University of Chicago continuing to discover the power of classic theatre. Court Theatre operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres and Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States. Productions are made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and by a City Arts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Court Theatre is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American Theatre; the League of Resident Theatres; the Illinois Humanities Council; the Arts Alliance Illinois; the League of Chicago Theatres; and Hyde Park Cultural Alliance.

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