Danielle Lee Greaves relishes her role as Mariah in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which comes to the Academy of Music next week.
“Mariah is like the matriarch,” she said. “She kind of oversees her little corner of Charleston, S.C. People tend to look to her for guidance and direction. I love her. She’s a complex woman. She’s interesting to delve into.”
Greaves is a veteran actress who has performed extensively on national tours, on Broadway and at other New York venues, on television and in film.
Her stage credits include A Streetcar Named Desire, Hairspray, Sunset Boulevard, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Lion King.
Greaves joined Porgy and Bess, a musical, last October.
“I love to tour,” she said. “This isn’t my first tour. You get to see different cities throughout the country. Audiences in their own way appreciate the show. It’s an interesting journey every single night.”
Geaves is making her second appearance in Philadelphia. She recalls being in town for a 1998 production of Rent.
Right now, she is in Cleveland as Porgy and Bess is at Palace Theatre for two weeks.
The show is set in South Carolina in the 1930s in Charleston’s Catfish Row. It’s a love story centering on the characters of Porgy (played by Nathaniel Stampley) and Bess (Alicia Hall Moran).
Greaves is a Harlem native who still lives in New York, so she is looking forward to getting home for a short period of time and welcoming family and friends to see her perform at the Academy of Music.
Fans will enjoy the dialogue, storytelling and the 23-piece orchestra, she said. The live music will be a blend of opera, jazz and popular classics.
“The music is extremely special,” Greaves said. “It’s an iconic opera with hugely iconic songs. People will be surprised how many beautiful songs they know. It’s one of my favorite parts of being a part of this production.”
Greaves, who wears a gray wig to play the older character of Mariah, said the costumes are not extravagant, but nonetheless special.
“The costumes are colorful and beautiful,” she said. “When you see them, you think the 1930s. They immediately set you in the environment.”
Porgy and Bess will play at the Academy of Music, at Broad and Locust streets, on Feb. 18-20 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 21 at 8 p.m.; Feb. 22 at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Feb. 23 at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
“Anyone who comes to the show will love it,” Greaves said. “I know I do.” ••
For tickets or more information, call 215-731-3333 or visit kimmelcenter.org/broadway