Carnegie Mellon alumnus Billy Porter (A '91) is directing the groundbreaking musical "Being Alive" through Dec. 2, 2007, at the new Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia. The musical is an idea Porter conceived — infusing decades of Stephen Sondheim's music with the passion of jazz, soul, R&B, hip-hop and gospel.
"It's the most in my skin I've ever felt as a creative entity," said Porter, a native of Homewood, Pennsylvania. "For the first time in my life I feel like I'm using every bit of my creative expression to take audiences on a very unique and universal journey."
The cast includes Carnegie Mellon alumni Leslie Odom Jr (A '03), Patina Miller (A '06) and Vanita Harbour (A '90). Alumnus Michael McElroy (A '90) worked with Porter and others to create the new musical arrangements of Sondheim's music.
Sondheim, whose many honors include multiple Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize, is pleased with the results. "The arrangements by Billy, Michael McElroy and James Sampliner are spectacular," he said.
Porter started singing at age 4. His Broadway credits include "Grease!" "Miss Saigon," "Five Guys Named Moe," "Smokey Joe's Café" and "Dreamgirls." He graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree in drama from Carnegie Mellon University in 1991, landing his first role in the Broadway production of "Miss Saigon" while still in his final semester.
In addition to his appearances on Broadway, Porter's one-man show "Ghetto Superstar — The Man That I Am" debuted at The New York Shakespeare Festival and Pittsburgh's City Theatre in 2005. His self-titled album debut album was released on A&M Records in 1997 and his sophomore album "At the Corner of Broadway + Soul, LIVE from Joe's Pub" is available in stores and online.
Porter has made several film and television appearances including "The Broken Hearts Club," "Noel" (with Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams) and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," as well as several appearances on the "Rosie O'Donnell Show."