Ethel Barrymore Theatre, (4/03/2014 - 6/15/2014)

First Preview: Mar 08, 2014
Opening Date: Apr 03, 2014
Closing Date: Jun 15, 2014
Total Previews: 27
Total Performances: 85

Category: Play, Drama, Revival, Broadway
Description: A play in three acts
Setting: Chicago's Southside. Sometime between World War II and 1960.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Produced by Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Eli Bush, Jon B. Platt, Scott M. Delman, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Ruth Hendel, Sonia Friedman/Tulchin Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth and Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino; Associate Producer: Joi Gresham

Written by Lorraine Hansberry

Directed by Kenny Leon; Assistant Director: Kamilah Forbes

Scenic Design by Mark Thompson; Costume Design by Ann Roth; Lighting Design by Brian MacDevitt; Sound Design by Scott Lehrer; Hair Design by Mia M. Neal; Associate Scenic Design: Nancy Thun; Associate Costume Design: Matthew Pachtman; Associate Lighting Design: Jennifer Schriever; Associate Sound Design: Drew Levy; Assistant Lighting Design: Andrew Cissna; Assistant Sound Design: Alex Neumann; Moving Light Programmer: Michael Hill

Executive Producer: Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner and John Johnson; Company Manager: Penelope Daulton

Production Manager: Aurora Productions; Production Stage Manager: Narda E. Alcorn; Stage Manager: Michael P. Zaleski

Music Curator: Branford Marsalis

Casting: Heidi Griffiths, C.S.A.; Fight direction by Rick Sordelet; Fight Captain: Jason Dirden; Vocal Coach: Kate Wilson; Press Representative: Philip Rinaldi; Advertising: Serino Coyne; Creative Advertising Design & Website: BLT Communications, Inc.; Marketing: Walker Communications; Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

Opening Night Cast

Denzel WashingtonWalter Lee Younger
LaTanya Richardson JacksonLena Younger
Sophie Okonedo
Broadway debut
Ruth Younger
Anika Noni RoseBeneatha Younger
Keith Eric ChappelleMoving Man
David CromerKarl Lindner
Jason DirdenGeorge Murchison
Stephen McKinley HendersonBobo
Bryce Clyde Jenkins
Broadway debut
Travis Younger
Billy Eugene JonesMoving Man
Sean Patrick Thomas
Broadway debut
Joseph Asagai

Standby: Michele Shay (Lena Younger)

Understudies: Michelle Beck (Beneatha Younger), Keith Eric Chappelle (George Murchison), Thomas Michael Hammond (Karl Lindner), Charlie Hudson III (Joseph Asagai, Moving Man), Billy Eugene Jones (Bobo, Walter Lee Younger), Darius Kaleb (Travis Younger) and Michelle Wilson (Ruth Younger)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 2014 Best Revival of a Play [winner] 

Produced by Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Eli Bush, Jon B. Platt, Scott M. Delman, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Ruth Hendel, Sonia Friedman/Tulchin Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth and Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino; Executive Producer: Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner and John Johnson

 2014 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play [nominee] 

LaTanya Richardson Jackson

winner 2014 Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play [winner] 

Sophie Okonedo

 2014 Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play [nominee] 

Anika Noni Rose

winner 2014 Best Direction of a Play [winner] 

Kenny Leon

Drama Desk Award

 2014 Outstanding Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Denzel Washington

 2014 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Sophie Okonedo

Theatre World

winner 2014 Award [recipient] 

Sophie Okonedo


AP: "Washington great in 'A Raisin in the Sun'"

Talk leading up to opening night of the latest Broadway revival of "A Raisin in the Sun" hinted at flaws — it was coming back too soon, a lead actress had to be replaced late, and Denzel Washington is just too old for it.

Turns out none of that matters: The show that opened Thursday night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre is blistering, beautifully acted and superbly touching.

Set in 1950s Chicago, Lorraine Hansberry's play centers on the struggling Younger family, who anxiously await a $10,000 insurance check — and the ensuing squabbles over how to spend it. So many meaty subjects are here: assimilation, manhood, racism, classism, sexism and honor.

Director Kenny Leon gets a second bite of the apple — he also helmed the last Broadway version starring Sean Combs in 2004 — and offers a throbbing, vibrant production that is a match for this 55-year-old American masterpiece. There's real humor here, too, both physical and scripted.

Washington is startlingly good as Walter Lee Younger, the frustrated chauffeur and dreamer. He has the cadences and the trapped physicality in his bones — warm and loose until he's cold and volatile. Even his mother says, "Something eating you up like a crazy man."

The script says Washington is supposed to be 35 — the actor is 59 — but all that matters is a brilliant performance, funny and poignant. Watching him dance on a table while drunk and then, moments later, cover his head in awful shame is a reminder that this movie star is simply natural onstage.

LaTanya Richardson Jackson replaced Diahann Carroll as the matriarch Lena Younger during rehearsals but there's no denying Richardson Jackson's gravitational pull — she is a fearsome, God-fearing woman not shy about a slap or two if respect isn't shown. Richardson Jackson brings everything to the part: majesty, disappointment, hope and love.

One revelation is Sophie Okonedo, making her Broadway debut as Ruth Younger, Walter's wife. Her bone-weariness is palpable as she opens the show — she even irons and cooks real eggs — and the audience will be inclined to hiss when she's treated poorly by her husband. Watching Okonedo flower in happiness when her family's fortunes take a turn for the better makes your heart soar, too. "Goodbye, misery," she says. And you hope it's true.

Anika Noni Rose makes a wonderfully feisty Beneatha Younger and Sean Patrick Thomas, as one of her suitors, the charming Joseph Asagai, allows the undercurrent of tension in their world views to bubble wonderfully. David Cromer has the unenviable task of playing the bureaucratic white villain, Karl Lindner, but never makes his character cartoony.

Mark Thompson has set it all in an appropriately grim set, complete with grime on the often-slammed front door, sofa pillows that sag with unhappiness, and horrible wallpaper. You can feel the roaches even if you never see them.

It's all the stuff of standing ovations, and richly deserved. A superb ensemble led by an accomplished director has illuminated this rich, thoughtful work. Only one regret after watching it — this playwright's voice was cut off too soon. Hansberry died of cancer in 1965 at age 34. At least she left us this play.


New York Daily News: "A Raisin in the Sun"

Denzel Washington’s popularity makes the revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” a hot ticket, but there’s a better reason: He and the show are flat-out excellent.

Reprising Sidney Poitier’s role, Washington is stunning as the dreamer-schemer Walter Lee Younger, whose frustration throbs at the heart of an American classic that is as deeply humorous as it is affecting.

The Oscar and Tony winner squeezes this juicy role with all his might, yet also melds seamlessly with his fellow actors.

That’s the way it should be. The women in Walter Lee’s life — his mother Lena, wife Ruth and sister Beneatha — are just as integral to this story of three generations of black struggle.

Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 drama — enduring and solid as they come — took shape as the civil rights movement gained steam but was still uncertain.

Guided by director Kenny Leon, performances are natural and lived-in, giving the audience the feeling that they’re overhearing private conversations. But listening — and really heeding — is the point.

Leon forces us to use our ears. We sit in the dark just as the play is about to start and we hear a tape of Hansberry and Studs Terkel discussing her play and its still-relevant issues.

Lights come up and the sterling cast — principals and supporting actors — let “A Raisin in the Sun” speak for itself as it tackles timeless themes of race, God and roots.

The story spins around an inheritance of $10,000, or about $100,000 today. The money is willed to Lena (a wonderful LaTanya Richardson Jackson) by her late husband — and she plans to use it to move the whole family into a white suburb. But there are bumps along the way.

Jackson brings dignity, strength and laughter, while Anika Noni Rose charms with contagious exuberance as Beneatha, who wants to be a doctor and to learn more about her African heritage.

As Walter’s long-suffering wife, Ruth, the sublime Sophie Okonedo wears a haunted expression that conveys a world of ache. It’s almost a shock when she smiles.

Frustration adds years to anyone’s mug. So it’s no big deal that 59-year-old Washington is two decades older than Walter Lee. Like a walking mood ring, Washington’s performance registers the colors of joy, despair, fury and determination.

As the play ends, streaks of sky crack through apartment walls. Those patches of blue might hint at hope. Or maybe bright spots that hover out of reach.

Such uncertainty makes Hansberry’s smart and discomforting drama as relevant and resonant as today’s headlines.

New York Daily News

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