What a cast! Tony winner Diahann Carroll will team up with Denzel Washington as mother and son in a now-official Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. The play will begin previews at the Barrymore Theatre on March 8, 2014, in anticipation of an April 3 opening. Kenny Leon will direct a 14-week limited engagement of the play, through June 15.
Joining Carroll and Washington will be Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) as Ruth Younger, Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change) as Benethea Younger, Stephen Tyrone Williams (Lucky Guy) as Joseph Asagai, Jason Dirden (Fences) as George Murchison and Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences) as Bobo. Additional casting will be announced soon.
Lorraine Hansberry’s classic American drama takes place in the late ‘50s in a south side Chicago apartment, chronicling the lives of the members of an African-American family. Matriarch Lena (Carroll) plans to buy a home in an all-white neighborhood when she receives a hefty insurance check. Her son Walter (Washington) dreams of buying a liquor store and being his own man, and her daughter Beneatha (Rose) dreams of attending medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face create the drama in this beloved play.
The play premiered on Broadway on March 11, 1959, and earned four Tony Award nominations including Best Play as well as acting nods for stars Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil. A 2004 revival, also directed by Leon, won Tonys for Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald.
Carroll is the first African-American actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, which she won in 1962 for No Strings. Her other Broadway credits include House of Flowers and Agnes of God. Carroll was also the first black woman to star in a sitcom in Julia, which ran from 1968 to 1971.
The 78-year-old actress told the Associated Press that she met Hansberry before the playwright died of cancer at age 34 in 1965. "She was extraordinary, and I think that's one of the reasons why it is an honor to be asked to be part of this. She faced everything with such intelligence and grace. She was dying when we met, but you would never have known that."
Scenic design for A Raisin in the Sun will be by Mark Thompson, costume design by Ann Roth and lighting design by Brian MacDevitt. The revival will be produced by Scott Rudin.