UK grads in Porgy and Bess on Broadway

Phumzile Sojola performs as Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in UK Opera Theatre's production of Madama Butterfly in 2005. © 2005 Herald-Leader photo by Brian Tietz.

When The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess opens on Broadway tonight, two University of Kentucky graduates will be on stage. Andrea Jones-Sojola is playing the Strawberry Woman and understudies the roles of Clara and Serena. Phumzile Sojola is Peter, The Honey Man and understudies the role of Robbins.

Andrea Jones as Despina in UK Opera Theatre's 1998 production of 'Cosi Fan Tutte' talks with Hope Koehler as Fiordiligia, left, and Sherri Phelps as Dorabella, right. © 1998 Herald-Leader staff photo by Mark Cornelison.

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess stars four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as Bess and film star David Alan Grier as Sporting Life. Fort Knox native Suzan-Lori Parks, whose numerous awards include the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant, wrote the book for the Broadway version which is directed by Diana Paulus, who brought the Public Theatre’s revered revival of Hair to Broadway in 2009. The production has been the subject of some controversy for alterations to the original music and book by George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose and Dorothy Heyward.

While at UK, Louisville native Jones-Sojola sang roles with the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre such as Laurie Moss in Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land and Despina in W.A. Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Sojola, a South Africa native,  sang Pinkerton in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Don Jose in Georges Bizet’s Carmen. They met and married while they were at UK as students of Everett McCorvey and have sung in McCorvey’s American Spiritual Ensemble. Sojola sang in the Off-Broadway show Three Mo’ Tenors, and Jones-Sojola appeared in its female counterpart Three Mo’ Divas. 

The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is the Broadway debut for both singers.

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