When Audra McDonald won her Drama Desk Award for Porgy and Bess on June 4, she thanked her costars, and spoke of what an honor it was to fall in love with Norm Lewis eight times a week — and be raped by Phillip Boykin. WHICH SOUNDS CRAZY. But.
If you’ve seen Porgy and Bess, and you’ve witnessed the performance being given by Phillip Boykin as the mostly-evil Crown, you kinda get it. As the third corner of the show’s central love triangle — it is occasionally a hate triangle — Boykin provokes an incredible reaction. On the night I saw the show, and undoubtedly on others, Boykin was booed during the curtain call. Booed. My first thought? Hand that man a Tony Award like, right now.
Boykin has played this role many times in his varied career, which includes opera gigs in New York and around the world. His Crown is a seething knot of jealousy and anger, as relentless as the hurricane that wreaks so much havoc on the show’s characters. Even with Audra McDonald standing a few feet across the stage, Boykin leaves a stunning impression. No small feat, that. For it, he wins the Tony of our hearts. And we wouldn’t mind seeing him stand up to take the real Tony, either.