Arden Theatre Company, now celebrating its 25th Season of great stories by great storytellers, presents A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Directed by Walter Dallas, A Raisin in the Sun will run March 7-April 21 on the Arden's F. Otto Haas Stage.
In Chicago's South Side in 1959, a life insurance check sent to the Younger's home arrives with the promise of change. This African American family then considers buying a house in the all-white Clybourne Park, but conflicting aspirations and a neighborhood's intolerance threaten the dream's reality. The play's premiere in 1959 was the first time an African American female playwright was produced on Broadway, was nominated for four Tony Awards, and went on to become a film starring Sidney Poitier. A pre-Broadway try-out featuring Poitier ran at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre, but since that time no major professional production has been produced in the city.
The Arden saw great success in 2012 with Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris' Pulitzer Prize-winning response to A Raisin in the Sun, but that was not the sole reason behind mounting a full production of Hansberry's work. "We have long been committed to sharing stories of the American family," says Terrence J. Nolen, the Arden's Producing Artistic Director. "We've been waiting for the right team to come along to tackle Lorraine Hansberry's masterpiece, and Walter Dallas returning to direct made producing this play finally possible." Previously, Dallas has helmed productions of Blue Door and The Piano Lesson on the Arden's stage.
Dallas is also known to Philadelphia audiences as the past Artistic Director of Freedom Theatre, Pennsylvania's first African American theatre. ForA Raisin in the Sun, Dallas reunites with actors Joilet F. Harris and U.R. who have worked with him at Freedom Theatre. Cast members Kash Goins and Yannick Haynes have also trained at Freedom.
Leading the cast as Lena Younger is Joilet F. Harris (Caroline, or Change) and U.R. as Walter Lee Younger (Blue Door, The Piano Lesson, Gee's Bend). Other actors returning to the Arden for this production include Leonard C. Haas as Karl Lindner (All My Sons, A Midsummer Nights Dream)and Peterson Townsend as George Murchison (Cinderella, History Boys, Our Town). Out-of-town actors coming to Philadelphia for this production include Nikki E. Walker as Ruth (Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre), and Segun Akande as Joseph Asagai (Classical Theatre of Harlem and Arena Stage). Philadelphia actor Kash Goins makes his Arden debut as Bobo. Rounding out the cast as Travis Younger is Yannick Haynes, a local fifth grader and Arden Drama School student making his professional debut.
The creative team behind the production includes scenic designer Dan Conway (August: Osage County, Blue Door), costume designer Alison Roberts (August: Osage County, The Piano Lesson), lighting designer F. Mitchell Dana (History Boys, Barrymore Award for Something Intangible), and sound designer Rob Kaplowitz (Superior Donuts, Blue Door, Tony Award for Fela!).
A Raisin in the Sun previews begin on Thursday, March 7. Preview performances run March 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12. Opening night is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 13. The run has already been extended through April 21, 2013.
Single ticket prices are $36-$48, with discounts available for seniors, students, military and educators. Groups of 15+ enjoy significant discounts; please inquire about group rates. Mainstage Subscriptions are on sale for $84-$135. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, order online atwww.ardentheatre.org, or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.
A Pay What You Can performance will be held on Wednesday, March 6 at 8pm with all proceeds benefiting the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
Post-show discussions will be held following performances on March 21 at 8pm, March 24 at 2pm, March 27 at 6:30pm, April 3 at 6:30pm, April 7 at 2pm.
The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Open Captioned and Audio Described performances will take place on Friday, April 12 at 8pm and Saturday, April 13 at 2pm. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden's Box Office at 215.922.1122.
The Scene, the Arden's young professionals networking event, will be held on Friday, March 6. Tickets are $30 and include a pre-show reception at the Arden, a ticket to the show, and a post-show party with the staff and cast. Tickets are available online at www.ardentheatre.org/thescene or by calling 215.922.1122 and mentioning The Scene.