Running since March 2014 Denzel Washington stars in Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama about the struggles facing three generations of an African American family. Winner of 3 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play.
The Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun closed June 15, 2014. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
Set on Chicago's South Side in the late '50s, "A Raisin In The Sun" is the story of the Younger family: Walter Lee (Denzel Washington), a chauffeur, his wife Ruth (Sophie Okonedo), his sister Beneatha (Tony winner Anika Noni Rose), his son Travis (Bryce Clyde Jenkins) and the family matriarch Lena (LaTanya Richardson Jackson). When Lena's deceased husband's money comes through, she wants to move to a new home in a better neighborhood; Walter Lee plans to buy a liquor store and be his own man; and Beneatha dreams of medical school.
The first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway, "A Raisin In The Sun" won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of 1959. The Washington Post has called it "one of a handful of great American dramas" and the NY Times has described it as "the play that changed American theatre forever."
"A Raisin In The Sun" will be directed by Kenny Leon. Leon, who served for many years as artistic directed of Atlanta's legendary Alliance Theatre, directed a 2004 Broadway production of the play which featured Sean Combs (aka Puff Daddy, Diddy, and P. Diddy) as Walter Lee.
Casting Note: Diahann Carroll was announced in the role of Lena but was replaced by LaTanya Richardson Jackson one month before first performance. According to a production spokesperson, Ms. Carroll withdrew "due to the vigorous demands of the rehearsal and performance schedule."
Washington brings considerable charm and magnetism to a difficult, often unsympathetic role. This is a credible, realistically scaled account of a still-vital classic. "Raisin" is a marvel of sturdy construction, supporting multiple plots on a solid foundation of racial frustration. [This revival] brings welcome measures of color and shading to the Great White Way.
The show is blistering, beautifully acted and superbly touching. Director Leon offers a throbbing, vibrant production that is a match for this 55-year-old American masterpiece. There's real humor here, too, both physical and scripted...Washington is startlingly good. A superb ensemble led by an accomplished director has illuminated this rich, thoughtful work.
Washington's tightly coiled physicality is a pleasure to watch...[but his] aura of forceful energy throws off the emotional balance of this smooth production. His vitality contradicts just how precarious the dreams of Walter, written as a younger, weaker black man, really are. Jackson steadily centers the production with her beautiful performance as Lena.
New York Daily News
Flat-out excellent...deeply humorous as it is affecting...Washington squeezes this juicy role with all his might, yet also melds seamlessly with his fellow actors. [The] performances are natural and lived-in. The sterling cast - principals and supporting actors - let "A Raisin in the Sun" speak for itself as it tackles timeless themes of race, God and roots.
New York Magazine
Washington [gives] an electric performance. Leon's production takes some extreme positions. And if some scenes do not yet seem fully tuned, most of the time the production locks in on its signal, with an especially persuasive Beneatha in Anika Noni Rose. But the play's the thing: built like a bomb and relentlessly relevant. Ageless, in fact.
New York Post
Washington is a terrific team player who thrives among other great actors. As a result, this first-rate production - efficiently directed by Leon - is a Broadway bull's-eye. It captures the play's passion, pathos and intelligence, without stinting on Hansberry's dry humor. The play has a few dated elements, but mostly it remains uncommonly effective.
New York Times
Engrossingly acted...The play as a whole has a genial, conversational quality; it always holds you, but without trying to shake you. Washington's more laid-back approach has a persuasive emotional logic, and it adds a different kind of suspense. Ms. Rose stands out as a revelatory Beneatha. This production brims with empathy for all the Youngers, but it also sees their faults clearly.
[A] shattering revival...Washington is magnificent - disaffected, exuberant, heart-shredding. The expert ensemble feels like a family, full of the lived-in nuance that can shift with just a gesture. Jackson makes a loving, if not multifaceted, mother...[a] stunning revival.
Heart-stopping...The performance is a personal triumph for Washington, who refrains from star-strutting to fold himself into a tight-knit ensemble of committed stage thesps who treat this revival like a labor of love. Helmer Leon generally treats the material with respect and keeps it from slipping too obviously into sitcom farce.
Wall Street Journal
Washington [is] solid, serious and a bit staid, but he rises excitingly to the play's climax. Even so, he also looks his years. The integrity of Leon's staging rises above this obvious falsity. This is still a great production of a great play, a blazing tale of hurt and hope that will burn itself so deeply into your heart that you'll be feeling its heat for a long, long time to come.