Caught in the Act

Porgy and Bess Earns Tony Nominations

May 1, 2012

A scene from the A.R.T.'s production of Porgy and Bess. (Photo by Michael J. Lutch)

BOSTON — The Gershwin revival that got its start at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge has become a Broadway hit that just earned no less than 10 Tony nominations.

"The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" will compete against Evita, Follies and Jesus Christ Superstar for the award of Best Revival at the 66th Tony Awards in New York, while the A.R.T.'s own Diane Paulus, selected by the Gershwin estate to transform George and Ira Gershwin's opera into a musical, is up for Best Direction. Other categories, such as Best Orchestration and Best Costume, include "P&B" and several members of the cast are nominated for Best Performance in their category: Norm Lewis (Porgy), Audra McDonald (Bess), Philip Boykin (Crown) and David Alan Grier (Sportin' Life). Neil Patrick Harris will host the Tony Awards on June 10th.

audre mddonald
Audra McDonald (Bess) with Jared Bowen.
When the revival opened in Cambridge last September, it wasn't without some question as to how a performance with racist overtones would appeal to a 21st Century sensibility. Jared Bowen reported on the premiere for WGBH's Greater Boston and was recently nominated for a New England Emmy award for his coverage. He reported:


From the moment George Gershwin chose to adapt DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy into an opera, there has been controversy. Controversy that he'd dare to create anything but popular music. That he'd dare write music solely for African American performers at a time when much of the country was segregated. And that he'd presume to be able to tell the story of a black community.

However, Bowen's conversations with the actors and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks reveal how the A.R.T. team approached the orgininal opera with the intention of presenting the work as it was meant to be, holes and all, but with real characters and realistic situations.

Read and watch Bowen's coverage with the links below:

>> A.R.T. Reimagines Porgy and Bess
>> Porgy and Bess Controversy at the A.R.T.
>> David Alan Grier on Reinterpreting the Gershwin's Play 

Catch even more WGBH coverage of this performance:

>>The Callie Crossley show: "Reimagining 'Porgy and Bess'"
>>Author Kim McLarin's review, "Porgy and Bess" at A.R.T.: Transformed and Illuminating"

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