Tony winner Diahann Carroll has withdrawn from the upcoming Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, citing the demanding rehearsal and performance schedule. She will be replaced by LaTanya Richardson Jackson in the role of Lena Younger, the matriarch of the Younger family. The play is already in rehearsals and is set to begin preview performances at the Barrymore Theatre on March 8 in advance of an April 3 opening. It is scheduled to play a limited engagement through June 15.
The production stars Oscar and Tony winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory, Fences) as Lena’s son Walter Lee, Academy Award nominee Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) as his wife Ruth, and Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline or Change) as his sister Beneatha. Also in the cast are Jason Dirden (Fences), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Lincoln, Fences, Dracula) and David Cromer (Our Town). Kenny Leon, who staged a 2004 revival of the play and directed Washington in Fences, also helms this production.
Raisin was to mark the Broadway return of Carroll after a 30-year absence. She won a Tony Award in 1962 for Richard Rodgers’ musical No Strings and also appeared in House of Flowers in 1954 and Agnes of God in 1982. Jackson, who is married to film star Samuel L. Jackson, made her Broadway debut in the revival of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Her Off-Broadway credits include Love, Loss and What I Wore, For Colored Girls…, and The Talented Tenth.
Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by an African-American woman to receive a Broadway production. The original 1959 production starred Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Claudia MacNeil and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. At 29, Hansberry was the youngest American playwright to win the award and only the fifth woman. The Broadway cast repeated their performances in the 1961 film version. Raisin, a musical adaptation, opened on Broadway in 1973, won the Tony for Best Musical, and ran for 847 performances. Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald headlined the 2004 Broadway revival and also starred in a 2008 TV-movie adaptation.
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