The "American Dream": Tony-Winning Revival of A Raisin in the Sun Recoups

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10 Jun 2014

Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

The 2014 Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, which took home three 2014 Tony Awards, including the Tony for Best Revival of a Play, has recouped its entire capitalization, producers announced June 10. 

The production also received Tony honors for Best Director of a Play (Kenny Leon) and Best Featured Actress in a Play (Sophie Okonedo). 

The production officially opened April 3 at the Barrymore Theatre, where the original production of Raisin in the Sun opened 55 years ago, for a limited engagement through June 15.

Denzel Washington, who won the 2010 Tony Award for his performance in August Wilson's Fences, stars as Walter Lee Younger opposite film, television and stage actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson as Lena Younger.

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"This is where I started. I think this is where actors really get to practice and work on their craft," Washington told Playbill.com about returning to the stage. "Film is a director's medium. Whatever you do in the film, the director then takes the material and edits it the way he or she wants to. In theatre, it belongs to us. And, it's great literature — Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson… I've been blessed to touch two of the great American playwrights."

The production began performances March 8.

The production also stars Academy Award nominee Okonedo ("Hotel Rwanda," Broadway debut) as Ruth Younger, Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change) as Beneatha Younger, Stephen Tyrone Williams (Lucky Guy) 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 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, 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 (Jackson). 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, sound designer Scott Lehrer and lighting designer Brian MacDevitt

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

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

The Ethel Barrymore Theatre is located at 243 West 47th Street. Visit RaisinBroadway.com

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Sophie Okonedo, Denzel Washington and Anika Noni Rose
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe