You can go home again

Raisin, Court Theatre's revival of the 1973 Tony Award-winning musical adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, has a Hyde Park backstory. But along with a local angle, Raisin—which runs through October 22—has universal appeal.

Hansberry's plot centers on what happens when a black working-class family buys a house in a restricted neighborhood. The story is semiautobiographical: in 1940 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of Hansberry's father and against a University-supported neighborhood association, opening up more than 300 properties in the Woodlawn neighborhood to African Americans.

The themes are heavy but the mood, under Charles Newell's direction, is joyous. A jazz band plays on an onstage platform, and the actors all wait for their cues while sitting onstage—half audience, half gospel witnesses.

Court's paying audience, meanwhile, is witness to some powerful performances, including one that offers another homecoming of sorts: Ernestine Jackson, who plays family matriarch Lena Younger, appeared in the original Broadway cast, playing Lena's daughter-in-law Ruth.


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Photos (left to right): Ernestine Jackson, who was nominated for a Tony for her performance in the original Broadway production, as Lena "Mama" Younger; Malkia Stampley as Beneatha, David St. Louis as Walter Lee, and Harriet Nzinga Plumpp as Ruth; The cast of Raisin.

Photos by Michael Brosilow.

September 25, 2006