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Audra McDonald will be ART's Bess

Posted by Laura Collins-Hughes  April 6, 2011 03:57 PM

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Four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will play Bess in the American Repertory Theater's musical-theater reworking of the opera "Porgy and Bess," which begins previews Aug. 17 at the Loeb Drama Center.

Norm Lewis has been cast as Porgy, and David Alan Grier will be Sportin' Life in "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," as the show will be called in its revamping by ART artistic director Diane Paulus, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and composer Diedre Murray.

McDonald, who has won two Grammy Awards and is the biggest name among the three cast members announced today by the ART, recently let slip to Playbill.com that she had been cast in the show, an assertion that the theater would not confirm at the time.

Lewis's latest Broadway turn was in "Sondheim on Sondheim" last year. His other credits include the role of Javert in "Les Miserables" on Broadway and in London's West End.

Two-time Tony nominee Grier, most recently on Broadway in David Mamet's "Race," may be best known for his work on the 1990s television comedy "In Living Color."

Presented in association with Broadway producers Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" will have choreography by Ronald K. Brown, sets by Riccardo Hernandez, costumes by Emilio Sosa, and lighting by Christopher Akerlind. Casting beyond the three principals is to be announced later, the theater said.

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