Is four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald going to be Diane Paulus's Bess?
The 40-year-old Broadway actress told Playbill.com that the answer is yes, giving a sneak peek at casting for the American Repertory Theater's streamlined, musical-theaterized reworking of George and Ira Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" this fall.
The ART said it could not confirm McDonald's statement but hoped "to have a thorough casting announcement soon."
Paulus, the ART's artistic director, is teaming up with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and Obie Award-winning composer Diedre Murray to give the 1935 opera a 21st-century update. Their reinterpretation, directed by Paulus, is slated to open the ART's 2011-12 season in September.
Speaking about the show last November, Paulus was coy about ambitions for it -- though the ART's partners on the project, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, are veteran Broadway producers whose credits include Paulus's Tony-winning production of "Hair." (The touring production of "Hair" opens tonight at the Colonial Theatre, where "Porgy" had its world premiere.)
"That the project might have a future life in New York is very clear to us," she said, adding, "One can never predict that."