Audra McDonald "A Bess for the Ages" (Boston Globe) As "Porgy and Bess" Opens at A.R.T. in Cambridge
The American Repertory Theater production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, starring Audra McDonald as Bess, Norm Lewis as Porgy, and David Alan Grier as Sporting Life, had its opening night at the A.R.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last night. A.R.T.'s Artistic Director Diane Paulus directs the new production of this seminal American opera, written by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin and adapted by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Suzan-Lori Parks and two-time Obie winner Diedre Murray.
"Ms. McDonald is Bess (or to use the hyperbolic speech of movie ads, 'Audra McDonald Is Bess')," exclaims New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley, "and she can claim rights to full possession of her role, the kind of ownership that transforms a classic character forever ... Ms. McDonald’s performance is as complete and complex a work of musical portraiture as any I’ve seen in years, fulfilling the best intentions of Ms. Paulus and Ms. Parks. A four-time Tony winner for her work in both musicals and plays, Ms. McDonald combines the skills of a great actress and a great singer to stride right over any perceived gaps between the genres of musical and opera."
The Boston Globe's Don Aucoin says that "in Audra McDonald, this production boasts a Bess for the ages," citing, for example, her duet with Lewis on “Bess, You Is My Woman Now," which he calls "a thing of beauty to watch and to hear."
For more information on the A.R.T. production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, visit americanrepertorytheater.org.
Following the September run at the A.R.T., Audra McDonald launches her own US fall concert tour, which will run through November. For details and ticket links, go to nonesuch.com/on-tour. She reunites with Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier for a Broadway run of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with previews beginning December 17 and opening night on January 12.
Porgy and Bess at the Richard Rodgers Theater will mark Audra McDonald's tenth turn in a Broadway production. She is the winner of four Tony Awards, for Carousel (1994), Master Class (1996), Ragtime (1998), and A Raisin in the Sun (2004), and has recorded four solo albums for Nonesuch Records: Way Back to Paradise (1998), How Glory Goes (2000), Happy Songs (2002), and Build a Bridge (2006). To peruse McDonald's Nonesuch catalog, head to the Nonesuch Store now.
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