Diahann Carroll Withdraws from Broadway Revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington

By Adam Hetrick
and Michael Gioia
February 9, 2014

LaTanya Richardson Jackson will replace Tony Award-winning actress Diahann Carroll as Lena Younger in the Broadway return of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, starring Denzel Washington, which will begin previews March 8 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

A representative for the production stated that Carroll withdrew from the production due to the vigorous demands of the rehearsal and performance schedule.

A Raisin in the Sun was to mark the highly anticipated Broadway return of the acclaimed actress after more than a 30-year absence from the New York stage. The film, television and stage star is a Tony Award winner for No Strings. Her stage credits also include Sunset Boulevard, Agnes of God and her 1954 Broadway debut in Harold Arlen's House of Flowers.

Jackson, who will step into the role, made her Broadway debut in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of Joe Turner's Come and Gone. She has appeared Off-Broadway in Love, Loss and What I Wore; For Colored Girls…, Unfinished Woman; and The Talented Tenth. Screen credits include "Ally McBeal," "Chicago Hope," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," "Malcolm X" and "Fried Green Tomatoes."

Academy Award winner Washington won the 2010 Tony Award for his performance in Fences. He will star as Walter Lee Younger in a cast that will also feature Academy Award nominee Sophie Okonedo ("Hotel Rwanda," Broadway debut) as Ruth Younger, Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change) as Beneatha Younger, Sean Patrick Thomas as Joseph Asagai, Jason Dirden (Fences) as George Murchison, Tony Award nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences) as Bobo, David Cromer (director and star of Our Town, director of Tribes and The House of Blue Leaves) as Karl Lindner and 13-year-old actor Bryce Clyde Jenkins (Broadway debut, "The To-Do List," "Easy A") as Travis Younger.

Okonedo is appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association.

Originally produced in 1959, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway, where it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.

Here's how producer Scott Rudin bills the work: "Set on Chicago's South Side, A Raisin in the Sun revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee (Washington), his wife Ruth (Okonedo), his sister Beneatha (Rose), his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama (Carroll). When her deceased husband's money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama." 

Other members of the creative team include scenic designer Mark Thompson, costume designer Ann Roth and lighting designer Brian MacDevitt. 

The classic Lorraine Hansberry drama was last seen on Broadway in 2004 starring Sean Combs.

Washington has also been seen on Broadway in Julius Caesar and Checkmates.