NLT presents ‘A Raisin in the Sun’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year, Natchez and the Miss-Lou!

Natchez Little Theatre is proud to present for its fifth show of the 62nd season and in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its Broadway debut, Lorraine Hansberry’s timeless drama, “A Raisin in the Sun,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 14–16, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at Natchez Little Theatre at 319 Linton Ave. at Maple Street in Natchez.

A “Raisin in the Sun” is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that debuted on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959. The title comes from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes:

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“What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore –

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over –

Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?”

The story is based upon her family’s own experiences growing up in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood.

“A Raisin in the Sun” was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, as well as the first Broadway play with a black director, Lloyd Richardson. The original Broadway cast included Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Louis Gossett Jr. The show ran for 530 performances and won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

In “A Raisin in the Sun” Lorraine Hansberry examines a black family’s struggle to break out of the poverty that is preventing them from achieving some sort of financial stability, or the American Dream.

It is a fiercely moving portrait of people whose hopes and dreams are constantly deferred.

I am extremely proud to direct this outstanding and moving production and an incredibly dedicated and talented cast. Adrienne Lacey-Bushell portrays Lena Younger or Mama, the head of the Younger family. In the role of her son, Walter Lee, in his NLT debut is Patrice West of Fayette, with Beverly Adams of Natchez as his wife, Ruth. Beverly’s son, Spencer Adams has stepped in at the last minute to play Walter and Ruth’s son, Travis. Rhoshawnda Baker of Natchez makes a powerful NLT debut as Lena’s daughter, Benetha. Other NLT debuts in the production include Brandon Ayers as Joseph Asagai, Mease Banks as George Murchison, and Robert Gardner as Bobo. NLT veteran actor, Don Vesterse, who constructed the sets and served as assistant director portrays Karl Lindner.

NLT has wanted to produce this show for several seasons and is excited that we have offered three student matinees for local area schools and they are all sold out. There will also be a special benefit performance at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, Jan. 12, to benefit the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Musum. Tickets for the benefit are $10 and may be purchased at NLT prior to the performance.

Tickets for the Thursday through Sunday performances are $15 each and should be reserved by calling Natchez Little Theater at 601-442-2233; toll free at 1-877-440-2233 or online at NLT’s box office opens one hour before show-time.

I look forward to seeing you at NLT’s “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Layne Taylor is the artistic and executive director of “A Raisin in the Sun.”