Viola Davis (Everybody's Ruby), Gloria Foster (Having Our Sayand Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Seven Guitars) lead the cast of the Williamstown Theatre Festival's new revival of Lorraine Hansberry's classic, A Raisin in the Sun, which finishes performances August 1. The Jack Hofsiss (My Night with Reg) helmed production opened on July 21.
Hansberry's drama debuted on Broadway March 11, 1959, the first Broadway play by a black woman. The play about a black family on Chicago's South Side starred Claudia McNeil and Sidney Poitier under Lloyd Richards' direction. Hansberry died of cancer six years later on Jan. 12, 1965.
Davis and Santiago-Hudson know each other from the Broadway production of August Wilson's Seven Guitars. Santiago-Hudson won a Tony for his performance in that play. Coincidentally, like many other Wilson productions, Lloyd Richards directed the piece.
Foster is quite familiar with Raisin in the Sun. The veteran actress began her career in the late 50s in a touring production of the play starring McNeil. Playing Ruth in that staging, she now fills the role of the matriarch Lena.
* The Williamstown season schedule, which runs June 16-Aug. 29, runs as follows:
The Main Stage:
As You Like It (Aug. 4-15), starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Rosalind, Mark Linn-Baker as Touchstone, Michael Cumpsty as Jaques and Alessandro Nivola as Orlando.
Chaucer in Love (July 28-Aug. 8), John Guare's new play about pilgrims who journey to Rome to absolve their sins, directed by Martin, starring B.D. Wong, Lee Wilkof, Bruce Norris and Megan Dodds.
The Waverly Gallery (Aug. 11-22), Kenneth Lonergan's new play about an 85-year-old Greenwich Village gallery owner who, while failing mentally, refuses to retire, directed by Scott Ellis (Steel Pier).
WTF will also produce several cabaret acts and play readings.
For information, call (413) 597-3399.
-- By Sean McGrath
and Robert Simonson