Billy Porter's 'While I Yet Live' to debut off-Broadway in fall


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The autobiographical play "While I Yet Live" by Tony-winning Pittsburgher Billy Porter will have its world premiere at the off-Broadway Primary Stages theater later this year.

"It's a kitchen-sink drama about me and my family, set in Pittsburgh," Mr. Porter said in June, a few days after he was honored as best actor in a musical for his role as the flamboyant Lola in "Kinky Boots." The play spans 1994 to 2008.

A starry reading of "While I Yet Live" at the Barnard College Reading Series in 2012 featured Natalie Belcon, Bryan Terrell Clark, Chuck Cooper, Harriett D. Foy, Susan Heyward, Adriane Lenox, Tonya Pinkins and S. Epatha Merkerson, best known for "Law & Order," as Mr. Porter's mother, Cloerinda Ford.

The season announcement for Primary Stages says the play will run September-November and describes it as "an autobiographical work about coming of age in Pittsburgh amongst a bevy of fascinating and strong-willed women." Tony nominee Sheryl Kaller will direct.

Mr. Porter, a Carnegie Mellon Univeristy graduate and former instructor at the university, also is a recording artist, director and choreographer whose one-man play, "Ghetto Superstar," was developed at City Theatre and played off-Broadway in 2005.

For its 30th season, Primary Stages will relocate from the 59E59 Theater to the Duke on 42nd Street, according to Playbill.com. Besides "While I Yet Live," the season includes new plays by David Ives ("Venus in Fur") and Theresa Rebeck ("Seminar"). More information at http://primarystages.org/upcoming-season.


Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960.

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