‘A Raisin In The Sun’
CHAUTAUQUA – The Chautauqua Theater Company will present an award-winning classic beginning later this month.
Chautauqua Theater Company, under the leadership of Vivienne Benesch – artistic director – and Sarah Clare Corporandy – managing director – presents Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” June 28 through July 6 on the Bratton Theater stage. Resident Director Ethan McSweeny will direct.
Chautauqua’s production stars Jonathan Majors (Walter Lee), Lynda Gravatt (Lena), Chelsea Williams (Ruth), Chasten Harmon (Beneatha), Derek Johnson (Travis), Christian Demarais (Karl Lindner), Tramell Tillman (Bobo), Oge Agulue (George Murchison) and Toby Onwumere (Joseph Asagai).
Set in Chicago’s South Side, “A Raisin in the Sun” is the landmark drama that charts three generations of the Youngers, an African-American family trying to find their footing in a racially segregated world. This seminal American story is as potent today as it was in 1959, when it debuted on Broadway. Taking its name from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, Hansberry asks a pivotal and tender question: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”
“Following the success of Clybourne Park last season – itself inspired by Hansberry’s masterpiece – CTC is proud to finally add ‘Raisin’ to the pantheon of American classics produced on the Bratton Stage,” said Benesch. “The current Broadway production of ‘Raisin’ just won three Tony Awards including Best Play Revival. Here at Chautauqua, audiences will not only experience the resonant power of this masterwork, but see the shining stars of tomorrow (from such programs as Yale, NYU, Juilliard, UCSD, UTenn, and UC Irvine) alongside veteran actress Lynda Gravatt.”
“After directing ‘The Glass Menagerie’ and’ Death of a Salesman’ here, I am thrilled to get a chance to share with CTC audiences a play that I consider to be the third panel in the triptych of great American plays of the mid-20th century,” said McSweeny. “I would call them en suite ‘The Dream Deferred Trilogy.'”
Winner of the NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, “A Raisin in the Sun” premiered at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre, March 11, 1959. The production starred Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Claudia McNeil. The 1961 film version also starred Poitier and the Broadway cast. Set to music in 1973 and called “Raisin,” it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. “A Raisin in the Sun” has received two Broadway revivals – 2004 with P. Diddy, Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad and 2014 with Denzel Washington. Both productions were directed by Kenny Leon.
The production team includes Lee Savage (set) who collaborated with McSweeny on previous CTC productions of “Death of A Salesman” and “The Glass Menagerie,” Andrea Lauer (costumes), Seth Reiser (lighting), and Justin Ellington (sound). Jennifer Rae Moore is production stage manager.
Chautauqua Theater Company 2014 season includes: “The May Queen,” a world premiere by Molly Smith Metzler (July 18-27), directed by Vivienne Benesch, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” (Aug. 8-15), starring Lisa Harrow, directed by Jade King Carroll on the Bratton Theater Mainstage. The New Play Workshop, will present staged readings of “Dairyland” by Heidi Armbruster (July 10-12) directed by returning CTC Guest Artist Lisa Rothe and “The Guadalupe” by Carol Carpenter directed by McSweeny (July 31-Aug. 2). In addition, the combined talents of five great performing arts companies under the Chautauqua Institution’s umbrella will present “Go West!” – an epic multi-disciplinary original work, July 26 on the celebrated 5,000-seat Amphitheater stage. CTC Associate Artistic Director Andrew Borba directs.
Tickets are $30; ticket packages range from $65 to $150. Order by phone at 357-6250, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or online at www.ciweb.org.