With majority of the cast being African American, it took almost a year for the producer Philip Rose to raise funds to stage the play as it was considered a ‘risky investment’. However, after touring around the country, the play finally made its way to Broadway in 1959 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. To producer Philip’s and writer Lorraine’s surprise, the play was an instant hit with the audiences as well as critics. Starring legendary actor Sidney Poitier in the lead as Walter Younger, the play received immense praise from several publications. It was named the ‘Best Play of the Year’ by The New York Drama Critics’ Circle. The show ran at the theatre for almost two years and won four Tony Award nominations for ‘Best Direction’, ‘Best Actress’, ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Play’.
The heart wrenching family drama follows the life of an African American, Walter Younger, and his family that includes his sister Beneatha, mother Lena, wife Ruth and son Travis. When Walter’s mother inherits a large sum of money, the entire family ends up journeying through a struggling period. While Walter plans to spend his mother’s money in building a liquor store, Lena has other plans. As Walter pursuits his dream of getting rich, two characters come in his life that compel him to assess his perceptions of his social standing.
The play became one of the landmark shows in Broadway history for exploring the African American family experiences before the US Civil Rights Law. In 1961, it was adapted into a film by director Daniel Petrie. The film starred the original Broadway cast including Ivan Dixon, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and won a National Board of Review Award for Ruby Dee.
According to the New York Times, the play ‘changed the American theatre forever’. The show has been hailed by many critics for drawing African American to Broadway Theaters as well as introducing details of African American way of life to the white audiences. This powerful, ground breaking play will once again be staged for another run at the same Broadway venue where it premiered. A Raisin in the Sun tickets will be all the rage amongst theater lovers this season. So make sure to catch Denzel Washington along with Diahann Carroll and other talented actors in the upcoming revival of this Broadway classic.