This post has been corrected. Please see below for details.
Diahann Carroll is no theatrical Rip Van Winkle, although one might think that was the case, going by early reports of her recently announced return to Broadway next spring opposite
The producers noted in their announcement of the revival that it will be Carroll’s “first Broadway appearance in over 30 years” – the most recent one having been a brief fill-in turn in 1983 as the psychiatrist in “Agnes of God.” Carroll stepped in for a couple weeks while
Carroll, who recently turned 78, will not, in fact, have decades of cobwebs to shake off when it comes to resuming live performance. In 2010, she starred in an autobiographical musical one-nighter at the Annenberg Theatre in Palm Springs, “Diahann Carroll: The Lady, The Music, The Legend,” which
She performed a number of live concerts around that time, including joining
Southern California audiences most recently saw Carroll in a dramatic stage role in 2002 at the Pasadena Playhouse, when she starred opposite Phylicia Rashad as a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who rub each other the wrong way in “Blue,” Charles Randolph Wright’s play about a prosperous black family in South Carolina.
Carroll brought “a withering hauteur” to that role, according to the Los Angeles Times review.
As Lena Younger in “Raisin,” scheduled to begin Broadway previews March 8 and run to June 15, 2014, she’ll tackle a classic, supremely moving part that’s marked by love and dignity, if not much hauteur.
Lena dreams of giving her Chicago family a better life after her husband dies: she’ll use the $10,000 life insurance payment to buy a house in the leafy all-white suburb of Clybourne Park. When her son, Walter Lee Younger, who'll be played by Washington, loses most of the money in a bad business deal, the question becomes whether the blow will destroy him and tear the family apart.
The cast also will feature
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Kenny Leon, who directed Sean “Diddy” Combs, Rashad and
In the restacked deck, Washington’s A-list acting credentials (including a 2010 best-actor Tony under Leon's direction in August Wilson’s “
Carroll played a grandmother in the recent film, "Peeples" and has had a recurring role as a wealthy widow on the USA network television series,
“Raisin” will be Carroll’s fourth play on Broadway, where she debuted at the end of 1954 in the musical “House of Flowers,” a flop despite a jaw-dropping talent roster that also included Pearl Bailey and Alvin Ailey in the cast, Peter Brook directing, Harold Arlen writing the music and
She won a 1962
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"A Raisin in the Sun" is one of the landmark plays in American theater history -- one of the first and finest stage dramatizations of black life in post-World War II America. Hansberry's play was shut out on Tony night because of a landslide for “The Miracle Worker.”
William Gibson (best play), Arthur Penn (director) and
Hansberry and "Raisin" also failed to win the 1960 Pulitzer prize for drama, which went to the musical "Fiorello!," based on the life of
In L.A., Ebony Repertory Theatre revived “Raisin” in 2011, with Rashad directing, and it transferred in 2012 to the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, packaged by Center Theatre Group in a time-spanning, crosstown diptych with its simultaneous production of
“Clybourne Park,” which won
For the record, Aug. 5, 11:53 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Lorraine Hansberry won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for drama for "A Raisin in the Sun."