After 30 years, Diahann Carroll is heading back to the “Great White Way.” She will be joining Denzel Washington in the second Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, where the two will play mother and son.
The Tony Award winners will be joining a cast that includes Academy Award-nominee Sophie Okonedo as Ruth Younger, Tony Award-winner Anika Noni as Beneatha Younger, Stephen Tyrone Williams as Joseph Asagai, Jason Dirden as George Murchison, and Tony Award-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson as Bobo.
Carroll is excited to be a part of the play, and she told the Associated Press, why she thinks the show keeps getting revived. “I think it’s one of our most original plays and I think that’s why it keeps coming back.”
The play, written by Lorraine Hansberry, originated on Broadway in 1959. It centers around a black family, the Younger’s, in the late 1950s, trying to make a better life for themselves in a white neighborhood. Walter, his wife Ruth, their son Travis, Walter’s mother Lena (Mama), and his sister Beneatha share a two bedroom apartment in Chicago’s south side. When a ten thousand dollar insurance check comes in, Walter has his own ideas for how to spend the money, but Mama uses part of it to buy a home for the family in a white neighborhood. Walter wants a share of the money to make a name for himself and open a liquor store, but Mama objects because of her religious beliefs. Soon though, Mama relents and gives the money to Walter, as long as he agrees to put some back for his sister’s education. Instead, Walter gives it all to a business partner, who he never hears from again. Through these financial trials, the family tries to move on, together.
The original cast, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Ivan Dixon, Louis Gossett, Jr. and John Fiedler, were also in the 1961 film adaptation. The last Broadway revival, in 2004, starred Sean “Diddy” Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Sanaa Lathan and Audra McDonald. The 2004 Broadway cast also starred in the TV movie version of the play which aired on ABC in 2008. Kenny Leon, who directed the 2008 television film version, will also direct the 2013 revival on Broadway.
Even though it’s been three decades since she’s been on stage, Carroll seems to think most actors always end up going back. “I feel that most of us like to come back to the theater for multiple reasons – it is a reminder of what we can do, what we cannot do and what it is we need to address in terms of holding on to whatever gifts God was kind enough to give us.”
Previews begin March 8, 2013 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the same stage where the original play was performed. Opening night is scheduled for April 3, 2013.