Denzel Washington returns to Broadway in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’

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Multiple Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington returns to Broadway in ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ The play is currently in previews and will open officially on April 3.

By Carmen Glover

Listening to morning radio is usually informative, sometimes entertaining and often funny but while driving to work on Tuesday, it was all of the above. Multiple Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington called into The Steve Harvey Morning Show to discuss his role in the revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic play, ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

Immediately as his rich baritone filled the airwaves, Shirley Strawberry and Carla Ferrell, who co-host the show with Harvey, began to giggle like irrepressible school girls. “Oh, It’s Denzel,” they gushed, unable to contain their excitement. After exchanging pleasantries, Harvey got straight to the point: “What made you decide to return to Broadway?” he asked. Washington was quick with his reply:

raisin in the sun

Denzel Washington reprises the lead role of Walter Lee Younger, played originally by Sidney Poitier,  in ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

“I started in the theatre when I attended Fordham University,” he said. “I love the energy of the theatre. People in the audience react to every scene, whereas in a movie you film the scene and then it airs. In the theatre it is immediate.”

Washington explained that performing on Broadway is a great feeling for him and he feels especially blessed to be reprising a role first depicted by Poitier, who is his neighbor in Los Angeles.

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Denzel Washington said that he loves performing in the theatre because it helps him connect with fans.

“I met with him and I took my son, John David, who is an actor in his own right, let me do a plug for my son,” he said to laughter. “Yes, I met with him and he is such a generous man,” he said of his visit with Poitier. He expressed being impressed and pleased to meet with Poitier and also feeling grateful that the acting legend took the time to meet with him and John David.

In response to Strawberry’s question: “What has been your favorite role of all the roles you played?” Washington replied with sure-fire speed: “My next one. It’s difficult to choose one particular role , so I just prepare for the next one.” When Thomas Miles, fondly called Nephew Tommy, asked: “Which do you prefer film, television or theatre?” Washington responded: “I don’t have to choose. I do it all.”

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Denzel Washington joins LaTanya Richardson (black dress; wife of Samuel Jackson) and the other cast members of “A Raisin in the Sun.,” including Anika Noni Rose (in pink) and Sophie Okonedo.

Washington describes the play as the story of a Chicago family who “came into $10,000, which was a lot of money in 1959. I play the son who drives a limousine and we all have plans for the money. The play tells what happens to the family,” he said. Harvey asked him if there is any role that he would like to play in the future. The question elicited an interesting response from Washington.

“Well, the only thing I would like to do is a comedy tour with you because I haven’t done that yet. We should do something like that,” Washington said, sounding rather serious. Harvey was quick to respond. “I would come out of retirement to do that with you, my man. Oh, yes.”

Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in the original rendition of 'A Raisin in the Sun.'

Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in the original rendition of ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ is currently in previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, which is the location where it premiered in 1959 when Poitier played the lead role. Bronx-born actress Diahann Carroll was initially slated to star in the production with Washington but she pulled out and was replaced with Richardson.  A revival of the play took place in 2004 with Phylicia Rashad and Sean Combs in the lead. The play opens officially on April 3 and runs through June 15.–OnPointPress.net.

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