By Richard Burnett, from Hour, with Permission
Lorraine Hansberry`s landmark play A Raisin in the Sun takes its name from the Langston Hughes poem Harlem. Then in 1959 it became the first-ever play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, starring Sidney Poitier, who’d also go on to star in the 1961 Hollywood adaptation. More importantly, A Raisin in the Sun was the first cross-over play that portrayed African-Americans as they saw themselves. While much has changed in society since 1959, A Raisin in the Sun still resonates deeply today, as black folks still deal with identity politics, and as disproportionate numbers of black men are still shut out of the job market and black women remain the glue of their family units. Black Theatre Workshop’s remount stars a solid cast of locals, notably Montreal jazz legend Ranee Lee who owns the stage every time she opens her mouth or lifts an eyebrow. Lee gives the cast and production that extra gravitas, and the soundtrack (notably Dinah Washington`s This Bitter Earth) adds to the period atmosphere. My one complaint is the cast`s voices didn’t carry well - the actors need to speak louder or BTW needs to mic the stage. Hopefully this problem was corrected after opening night. Other than that, this is a sterling production of a classic play. Don’t miss it.
Black Theatre Workshop’s A Raisin in the Sun plays at the Centaur Theatre until December 5)
(Richard Burnett, Hour, by permission)