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Celebrity Takeover

Showboat starring Vanessa Williams, Norm Lewis & More to Air on PBS

PBS will broadcast the 2014 revival of theater classic Showboat starring Tony nominee Vanessa Williams on Friday, Oct. 16.

Touting an all-star cast, Williams stars as “Julie” and is joined by Broadway vets Norm Lewis (Porgy and Bess, Les Miserables) as “Joe” and Natasha Yvette Williams (Porgy and Bess, The Color Purple) as “Queenie.”  The show also features Tony Award-nominee Lauren Worsham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder) as “Magnolia;” and Julian Ovenden, of “Downton Abbey” fame, as “Gaylord Ravenal.”  The semi-staged Philharmonic performance played a brief run at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center last fall.

The broadcast of Showboat  is a part of Live From Lincoln Center, PBS’ award-winning performing arts series showcasing the best of their wide-ranging programming. Reigning “Tony Queen” Ms. Audra McDonald continues as host. (Fun Fact: McDonald sings a lovely rendition of Showboat’s “Bill” on her second album, “How Glory Goes.”)

Showboat has been listed as one of Broadway’s “most-revived and revised works.” Recent productions have garnered the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical (1995) and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival (1991).

Once an exciting and essential part of American entertainment, the river boats of the Mississippi are now a fleeting memory of times past. Showboat gives us a vivid glimpse into the world of these floating theatres, showing the myriad stories and lives that surrounded and depended on each one. Beginning in 1887, we see three generations of performers and workers as they navigate the epic tale of enduring love and racial tolerance.

2014 was a busy year for Vanessa Williams. After appearing in the Tony-nominated Trip to Bountiful, the recording artist did a brief stint in the Langston Hughes-inspired musical After Midnight.  Tony nominated for her role as the Witch in Into the Woods, the versatile artist has amassed an impressive theater resume over the years including Kiss of The Spider Woman, Sondheim on Sondheim and St. Louis Woman at City Center Encores!

Showboat on PBS premieres on Friday, Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. EST.

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