Since its Broadway debut in 1959, A Raisin in the Sun has become one of the perennial favorites of Black theatre, with two Broadway revivals, a film, a musical and a television movie, as well as regular appearances in regional theatres throughout the country. On September 18, the award-winning drama opened at the Harlem Repertory Theatre with guest director, Lee Summers.
Summers, who’s best known for creating and producing Off-Broadway’s From My Hometown: A Rag To Riches Celebration of the American Dream In Classic Rhythm & Blues, made his Broadway debut in the original production of Dreamgirls. Since then, he has appeared Off-Broadway in Miss Marguarita’s Way with Estelle Parsons, as an original cast member of From My Hometown, in the musical Little Ham, as well as in numerous cabaret and regional performances.
As a director, Summers has directed shows in venues ranging from New York’s Urban Stages, AMAS Musical Theatre, New World Stages, The Triad Theatre, Flushing Town Hall, Theatreworks in Palo Alto, CA, The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and many more.
A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry, 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. The American classic takes place in the late 1950’s on Chicago’s South Side, and revolves around the dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son “Walter Lee,” his wife “Ruth,” his sister “Beneatha,” his son “Travis,” and family matriarch “Lena,” called “Mama.”
The Harlem Repertory Theatre is a professional theatre company based in the heart of Harlem in New York City, founded by Keith Lee Grant. The Harlem Repertory Theatre will run the play every Friday at 7pm until December 11th. The theatre’s resident acting company includes Mario C. Brown, Kyria Geneva, Mabel Gomez, Roberto A. Guzman Jr., Jarrid Jones, Bianca Madison, Derrick Montalvo, Eric “Le Roy” Myles, and Joe Sabateur.
For information on tickets and directions, visit www.harlemrepertorytheatre.com.
The first Broadway revival of the play ran at the Royale Theatre from April 26, 2004 to July 11, 2004. The cast included Sean Combs as “Walter Lee,” Phylicia Rashad as “Lena,” Audra McDonald as “Ruth,” and Sanaa Lathan as “Beneatha.” It was directed by Kenny Leon and received two Tony awards: Best Actress in a Play (Rashad) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (McDonald).
A second revival ran ten years later from April 3, 2014 to June 15, 2014 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre with Denzel Washington in the lead role of “Walter Lee.” Other cast members included Sophie Okonedo as “Ruth,” LaTanya Richardson Jackson as “Lena,” and Anika Noni Rose as “Beneatha.” Leon again directed and the play won three 2014 Tony Awards: Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Okonedo) and Best Direction of a Play (Leon).