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The New 'Porgy & Bess' Opens on Broadway

by Jerome Weeks 13 Jan 2012 9:19 AM

With generally positive reviews. But no word on Dallas’ own Cedric Neal, alas.


But Dallas’ own Cedric Neal doesn’t really get cited, which is to be expected — he’s only playing Frazier, the lawyer, and is the first cover for Sportin’ Life, played by David Alan Grier.

Reason we’re interested: Neal was the second North Texas performer after Liz Mikel to transfer to Broadway the past two months. Mikel and her Dallas-Theater-Center-born show, Lysistrata Jones, generally got good reviews, but the show barely made it through the holidays before closing. (TheaterJones caught up with both actors on the streets of New York for a photo slideshow.)

The new, shorter version of Porgy, on the other hand, has been controversial, thanks in part to Stephen Sondheim’s now-famous objections to the changes made by director Diane Paulus and writers Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre L. Murray. The opera-turned-musical also wasn’t that well-received when it premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass.

But now that some tweaks have been made for Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre, the reviews for this Porgy and Bess are strong (Hollywood Reporter, Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Associated Press) or they rave about Audra McDonald as Bess, despite the show (New York Times, Bloomberg News) or argue that the problems with the show have always been the problems with the show (Chicago Tribune) or they pretty much hate the whole “Disney-style” effort at sanitizing the thorny, dialect-thick opera for “21st-century prigs” (Wall Street Journal).