Lizan Mitchell Is Mama in Buffalo Studio Arena Raisin in the Sun, Opening Jan. 16

News   Lizan Mitchell Is Mama in Buffalo Studio Arena Raisin in the Sun, Opening Jan. 16
Studio Arena Theatre's first staging of 2004 is Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Buffalo native Ron OJ Parson, opening Jan. 16 at the Buffalo not-for-profit following previews from Jan. 9.

The groundbreaking play about a black family's tug-of-war over how best to use an insurance windfall is expected to open on Broadway in spring, in a separate, starry production with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.

"A Raisin in the Sun is as vibrant and passionate a piece of writing today as it was back in 1959," Gavin Cameron-Webb, artistic director of Studio Arena, said in a statement. "This is a beautifully crafted play with a compelling story and true characters. It is no surprise that it is acknowledged today as one of the classics of American theatre."

The play derives its name from a line from a Langston Hughes poem and "relates the story of the Youngers, an African-American family living in a sunless, cramped tenement on Chicago's South Side," according to Studio Arena production notes. "The family matriarch, Lena, receives a substantial sum of insurance money left by her late husband. She would like to use the money to buy a house, a dream she shared with her late husband. However, each family member has a different idea of how the money should be used."

The play received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Year in 1959. Hansberry, at the age of 29, was the youngest playwright, the fifth woman and the only black writer at that time to win the award. In 1961, A Raisin in the Sun was made into a film starring most of the original Broadway cast (including Sidney Poitier). It was also adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical, Raisin, in 1973.

Hansberry died of cancer in 1965 at the age of 34. The 25th anniversary of A Raisin in the Sun was commemorated by Studio Arena's 1983 production directed by Harold Scott.

The Studio Arena company includes Lizan Mitchell as Lena Younger (Mama), Tyla Abercrumbie as Ruth Younger, Jay Jones as Walter Lee Younger, Bakesta King as Beneatha Younger, William Oliver Watkins as Joseph Asagai, Richard Satterwhite as George Murchison, Laverne Clay as Bobo, Richard Wesp as Karl Lindner, G. Anton Moore and Ernest Griffin as the moving men, and Devon Ivey and Aeron Chaney will share the role of Travis Younger.

The design team for A Raisin in the Sun includes set designer Jack Magaw, costume designer Ann R. Emo, lighting designer Kathy A. Perkins, sound designer Rick Menke. Choreographer is Elgie G. Sherrod.

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