Denzel Washington wins raves on Broadway for 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Fri Apr 4, 2014 4:28pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Denzel Washington may be best known for his film roles, but the award-winning actor is dazzling theater critics in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's acclaimed 1959 play "A Raisin in the Sun."

"Heart-stopping," "a Broadway bulls-eye" and "nothing short of revelatory" are just a few of the accolades used to describe director Kenny Leon's production, which opened on Thursday at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

"It captures the play's passion, pathos and intelligence, without stinting on Hansberry's dry humor," the New York Post said.

Hansberry's story about a struggling African-American family seeking a better life after inheriting a windfall was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway.

Washington, 59, plays an ambitious chauffeur with big dreams of success but no business acumen to achieve it.

"Reprising Sidney Poitier's role, Washington is stunning as the dreamer-schemer Walter Lee Younger, whose frustration throbs at the heart of an American classic that is as deeply humorous as it is affecting," said the New York Daily News.

Trade magazine Variety described Washington's performance as a "triumph," while the New York Post said he was "incredibly believable."

Although the Academy Award winner for the 2001 crime drama "Training Day" and the 1989 Civil War film "Glory" is nearly 25 years older than Hansberry's original Walter, his energy and exuberance on stage is convincing.   Continued...

A scene from the play "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of Brigitte Lacombe. From left, the cast are: David Cromer, Bryce Clyde Jenkins, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Denzel Washington, and Sophie Okonedo. REUTERS/Brigitte Lacombe/Handout via Reuters