Inside the 2014 Tony Award nominees: Best Revival of a Play


Image Credit: Brigitte Lacombe

(Page 3 of 4)

A Raisin in the Sun 
Opened: April 3, 2014

Starring: Denzel Washinton, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Sophie Okonedo, and Anika Noni Rose.

Written by: Lorraine Hansberry

Directed by: Kenny Leon

Synopsis: After her deceased husband’s money comes through, matriarch Lena (Richardson Jackson) dreams of moving to a better neighborhood in Chicago while her son Walter (Washington) see it as one last opportunity for him to make something of himself. Racial tensions and prejudice in the 1950s highlight the drama in this American classic.

EW review: “Denzel Washington is a powerful presence as restless working-class family man Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 play about soul-testing obstacles to one African-American family’s aspirations in South Side Chicago. The minute he walks on stage, the Oscar winner receives a roar of audience delight, and his tightly coiled physicality is a pleasure to watch, with one caveat: Washington’s characteristic aura of forceful energy, as well as the 59-year-old actor’s middle-aged maturity, throws off the emotional balance of this smooth new production, directed by Kenny Leon a decade after he staged a previous Broadway revival of the show” B+ (Lisa Schwarzbaum)

Nominations: 5 – Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (LaTanya Richardson Jackson), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose) and Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon).

Fun fact: Many were skeptical that Denzel Washington, 59, could a character written almost 25 years younger (Walter is pretty much the age that Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs was when he played the role  in the Broadway revival in 2004, also directed by Kenny Leon). Then, Diahann Caroll left the production in the middle of rehearsals, citing the demands of Broadway were too difficult at her age. LaTanya Richardson Jackson, wife of Samuel L. Jackson and Carroll’s understudy, took over the role permanently just one month before previews began.

Odds of winning: It has an outside shot.

Anika Noni Rose on her character’s inspiration: “I love this character. I mean, she is Lorraine Hansberry’s expression of herself, so I read her autobiography and took a lot of that in. But one about Ms. Hansberry is her writing is so clear and clean that she gives you just about everything you need to do what you’re going to do so it’s up to you to get it in your body and put the spirit together with it and I’m just really having a good time with it.”

NEXT PAGE: Twelfth Night 

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