As the star of a revival of the Lorraine Hansberry drama, A Raisin in the Sun, Combs attracted a bountiful and heterogeneous audience to Broadway, causing the drama to return its nearly $2.4 million capitalization on May 30, exactly two months after the show's first preview on March 30. The play opened on April 26.
Sharing the stage with Combs are stars Audra McDonald, Phylicia Rashad and Sanaa Lathan, along with David Aaron Baker, Teagle F. Bougere, Frank Harts, Alexander Mitchell and Bill Nunn. McDonald, Rashad and Lathan are all stars in their own right—all three were nominated for Tony Awards, with McDonald and Rashad winning—but there was no doubt in the collective Broadway mind whom audiences were laying down their money to see. A July 7 New York Post report said that, while other shows struggled during the last week of June, Raisin raked in $700,000 at the box office.
The production received respectable marks from critics; the leading ladies, in particular, were praised. Combs' work, however, was generally termed inadequate and wooden. Still, some critics confessed themselves impressed with Combs' efforts.
A Raisin in the Sun concerns Walter Lee, who chafes at his straitened circumstances and longs for a business deal that would lift him out of his limited world. He has his eye on his late father's insurance, but Walter's mother wants to use that money to move the family out of the city. The show features set design by Thomas Lynch, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt and sound design by T. Richard Fitzgerald. Additionally, Dwight Andrews composed original music for the production.
Combs has appeared in the films "Made," "Monster's Ball" and "Death of a Dynasty." Combs is arguably the most prominent figure in the hip hop world. As founder of Bad Boy Entertainment, he shepherded the career of the late superstar rapper Notorious B.I.G., as well as other artists. He had a phenomenal success as an artist in his own right with the album "No Way Out" and the single "I'll Be Missing You." He has also received much (sometimes unwanted) press for his one-time relationship with actress Jennifer Lopez and for run-ins with the law, including charges surrounding a shooting incident at a New York club.
Asked by Playbill On-Line on opening night whey he took this sharp right turn into a whole new field of entertainment, he said, "I ask myself that question all the time—and have since I decided to do this. I think it was something that said to me, `By God, as an actor, this is the chance of a lifetime!' It was definitely scary when the opportunity presented itself, but I didn't hesitate to jump at the chance, and I've stuck in there. To be honest, I don't think I was really thinking straight. I was just so overwhelmed to be asked to do this I don't think I realized what it'd take to accomplish it. I've been taking it day by day. I'm young, I got a long way to go, and I'm getting better every day."