The 2014 Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” is set to open this month on April 23rd, but previews have already begun. The plays stars Denzel Washington, Sophie Okenedo and Anika Noni Rose.
Set in 1950s Chicago, “A Raisin in the Sun” centers on the struggling Younger family, who anxiously await a $10,000 insurance check — and the ensuing squabbles over how to spend it. Denzel plays Walter Lee Younger, a chauffeur with dreams of opening a liquor store. The role was originally played by Sidney Poitier in the 1959 production and in the subsequent film in 1961. The Hollywood legend was gracious enough to walk through the part with Washington, whose last Broadway appearance was 2010’s “Fences.”
“He’s so generous and complimentary and he was like, ‘Oh you’re going to kill. You’re going to be better than I was,’ and all this stuff,” Washington says. “He’s just a sweet, gentle man. It wasn’t even about the play anymore. I was just like, ‘I’m going to come hang with him.'”
Diahann Carroll was to play the family matriarch, Lena (“mama”), but the veteran actress dropped out of the show, saying that the rigorous demands of the rehearsal and performance schedule, would be a bit much for the 78 year old actress. She has been replaced by Samuel L. Jackson’s wife, LaTanya Richardson.
“A Raisin in the Sun” was last on Broadway in 2004, with Sean Combs playing Walter Lee Younger, Audra McDonald as his wife Ruth Younger, Phylicia Rashad as mama Lena Younger, and Sanaa Lathan as Beneatha. It will be on Broadway for 14 weeks.
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