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04/19/2007


Denzel Washington Opens in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ On Broadway: REVIEW

A RAISIN IN THE SUN cap1267_A_crop

BY NAVEEN KUMAR

Just before the curtain rises on a beautifully acted production of A Raisin in the Sun, which opened on Broadway April 3 at the Barrymore Theatre, a recorded interview with Lorraine Hansberry pipes through the darkened house, the playwright advocating for broader audiences and greater accessibility in American theatre. The irony will be lost on no one who’s managed to snag a ticket to see the starry ensemble, led by Denzel Washington.

A RAISIN IN THE SUN 1960AcapHansberry’s 1959 drama, last on Broadway just ten years ago in a revival headlined by Sean Combs (aka P Diddy), is as much a chronicle of mid-century black experience in America as it is an uncluttered family portrait. Set on Chicago’s south side, the story looks in on the Younger family in their small, shabby apartment housing three generations under one roof. Grandfather Younger has recently passed, and a life insurance check is en route to his widow Lena (a sublime LaTanya Richardson Jackson).

Her son Walter Lee (Mr. Washington) has his mind set on using the cash to buy and run a liquor store. His sister Beneatha (Anika Noni Rose) could use some of the money to follow her dream of going to medical school. And Walter’s wife Ruth (Sophie Okonedo) shares Lena’s wish to move the family to a larger house where Ruth and Walter’s son Travis (Bryce Clyde Jenkins) can have a room of his own.

A RAISIN IN THE SUN cap1052_A_cropThe play’s relatively straightforward plot functions as a vehicle for Hansberry’s revelatory account of pre-Civil Rights black experience in all its particulars. Some of her talking points feel more seamlessly integrated than others, but the uniformly stellar cast draws us into their story from its first moments. Like every family, this Younger clan has its own practiced rhythms and ways of relating, and together the company creates a captivating alchemy it’s hard to look away from.

A master of the wordless glance, Ms. Jackson’s Lena balances quiet wisdom with a glorious and equally commanding bluntness. Ms. Rose is wonderful as the young, ambitious Beneatha, the vulnerability beneath her character’s idealism always coursing close to the surface. Rounding out remarkable performances by the show’s leading women, Okonedo (Oscar nominated for Hotel Rwanda) dams up a precarious swell of feeling behind Ruth’s firm exterior.

Washington, a Tony winner for his performance in August Wilson’s Fences, has a star-powered stage presence that translates into palpable command of audience sympathy. His Walter Lee carries an easy charm that makes it difficult to resent his follies for long, so he’s likable even at his most despicable. Though he doesn’t tread a difficult path to redemption, Washington’s interpretation is no less believable and moving for it.  

Director Kenny Leon, who also helmed the 2004 revival, maintains focus on drawing out fine performances from the talented company and forging an engaging, accessible family dynamic. If the drama feels more peppered with casual humor even at its most serious, moments of levity keep the pacing brisk and make the play that much more enjoyable to watch.

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos:brigitte lacombe)


News: Stephen Amell, Obamacare, Denzel Washington, El Salvador


Amell
RoadStephen Amell covers up the goods for an impromptu Christmas card posted to the actor's Instagram.

RoadKanye's keyboard will appreciate the break.

RoadShe's just being Miley.

RoadCybill Shepherd to guest star on Trophy Wife.

RoadDecember saw a surge in sign-ups on healthcare.gov, passing the 1 million mark, according to the Obama administration: "Combined with numbers for state-run markets due in January, that should put total enrollment in the new private insurance plans under President Barack Obama's health law at about 2 million people through the end of the year, independent experts said. That would be about two-thirds of the administration's original goal of signing up 3.3 million by Dec. 31, a significant improvement given the technical problems that crippled the federal market during much of the fall. The overall goal remains to enroll 7 million people by March 31."

RoadDenzel Washington rumored to be playing the Green Lantern in the new Superman vs. Batman movie.

RoadMichael Fassbender mugs for British GQ.

RoadThe year in scandals.

RoadProstitute mistakenly texts on duty police officer in wrong number epic fail. 

RoadGOP megadonor Harold Simmons has died: "Simmons’s spending was not confined to Republican political candidates: His foundation gave $600,000 to Planned Parenthood and a Texas affiliate in 2011, according to CPI, and the same amount to a Dallas LGBT center this year, according to the Dallas Morning News."

Pin RoadA very apropos 'You Can Play' pin.

RoadThe (fan-created) Frozen reprise that might have been but never was.

RoadSpeaking of, the animated film has done equally well overseas and here in the US according to Deadline, raking in $243.5M abroad and $491.8M globally.

RoadChaparrastique volcano erupts in El Salvador, thousands flee.

RoadNY Times asks: What does the way you speak say about you?


News: Ben Carson, Matt Bomer, Wounded Knee, Robert Reed

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d The trailer for the upcoming Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg team-up movie 2 Guns is out.

Bomer6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d Matt Bomer is perfect for Superman: Unbound.

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d Yesterday, Ben Carson went on MSNBC to try to apologize for comparing gays to those who have sex with animals. He then went on CNN to continue his damage control campaign. "I love gay people. I love straight people. So this was really, I think, on my behalf, somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone, because I was not in any way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse."

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d Justin Bieber has his monkey taken away from him in Germany.

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d Over a year after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed New Jersey's marriage equality bill, that state's chapter of the ACLU has renewed its push to legalize same-sex marriage.

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d MSBNC blog states that progress in LGBT movement requires more gays to take political office: "When there are more openly gay elected officials in state and federal office then the end of this form of segregation will be near."

Bb6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d The Brady Bunch actress Susan Olsen writes about her late television dad, Robert Reed: "I can also say that being gay killed him. Because it was so taboo, he could never make peace with himself. He never allowed himself to have a genuine love. He was forever taunted by his own disdain for the natural inclinations that he was BORN WITH."

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d The site of the Wounded Knee Massacre is for sale.

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d Salon delves into the impact LGBT television characters have made on the minds of people over the years.

6a00d8341c730253ef014e86b06427970d Renderings have been released for what is proposed to be San Francisco's own "Grand Central."


Movies: Denzel is High as a Kite in 'Flight'

Flight-cockpit
Denzel loses control in FLIGHT

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS

YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION

No one can fly a plane like Captain Whip (Denzel Washington). Unfortunately no one can drink like him either. Within the first fifteen or so minutes of Flight, the new drama from Robert Zemeckis (of Forrest Gump fame), Whip has already downed multiple vodkas, beers, and at least one line of coke. He's high before lift-off; this bender is all on the morning he's piloting 104 souls on a commercial aircraft to Atlanta.  

Whip gives drunk driving a whole new vertical meaning. 

Captain Whip's flight is, unfortunately, doomed. In the aftermath of the unusual crash (very well shot and edited -- a real armrest grabber and apparently it is possible to fly a plane inverted) Whip, his co-workers, multiple lawyers and moneyed executives are engaged in the very tense and very high-stakes legal battle as to the why the plane went down. 

"Why?" is an open ended question so let's ask a more specific one. Will Denzel win his sixth Oscar nomination?  

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

Flight-stewardesses

Continue reading "Movies: Denzel is High as a Kite in 'Flight'" »


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