Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin In The Sun opened on Broadway in 1959 starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, and was the winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle award. It was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, and author Lorraine Hansberry was both the first African-American and the youngest to receive the prestigious award. A critically acclaimed film adaptation was released in 1961 with most of the original Broadway cast. The play was also the basis for the 1974 Tony Award winning Raisin. In 1989 the play was adapted into a made for TV movie starring Danny Glover and Esther Rolle. This production received three Emmy Awards. It was revived on Broadway in 2004 with Sean "Diddy" Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald. In 2008 it was adapted again for TV starring most of the 2004 Broadway cast.

A Raisin In The Sun is the story of an African-American, inner-city family living in the Chicago Woodlawn neighborhood in the 1950s. Walter Lee Younger is a limousine driver struggling to find a way to make a better living for his wife Ruth and their son, Travis. Walter's younger sister Beneatha, who lives with them, wants to become a doctor. Their mother Lena, the matriarch of the family, also lives with them. All await the arrival of the life insurance check issued after the death of the late Mr. Younger, who was Lena's husband and Walter and Beneatha's father. Though the check is to be issued to Lena, each member of the family has ideas on what that check will be used for. The family is met with issues of prejudice and the emotional coming of age of Walter Lee as he struggles to assume his role as the head of the family

This reading of A Raisin In The Sun is beautifully cast and powerfully performed. It serves as a wonderful example of how a theatrical impact can be made without staging, costumes, props and lighting/sound effects when the acting is sound. William Barnes is powerful as Walter Lee. Me'lissa Smith has great energy as the rebellious Beneatha. Yvonne Christiana has a noble quality as Lena. Crystal is simply perfect as Ruth. Together these main characters make the magic of this show happen, all framed by the supporting cast of characters around them.

Born in 1930, Lorraine Hansberry was an African-American playwright and author of political speeches, letters, and essays. A Raisin In The Sun, her most famous work, was inspired by her family's legal battle against racially segregated housing laws in Chicago during her childhood. Her 1965 Broadway play The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window ran for 99 performances before closing on the night she died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 34. She left behind an unfinished novel and three unfinished plays, the content matter dealing with many types of emotions. The brilliantly written A Raisin In The Sun lives on as a testimony to a talented life that was cut far too short.

This Conundrum Stages Playreading Series production of A Raisin In The Sun was presented for one performance only on November 22 at the Northwest Branch of the Broward County Library. The Northwest Branch is located at 1580 NW 3rd Ave. in Pompano Beach, FL.

Established in 2008, Conundrum Stages is an organization presenting showcases of various fields in the performing arts. Their goal is to promote local performance artists and unite them with audiences under one accord. Their play readings started in 2004 under the banner of The Ghost Light Series, presenting local stage actors in both classic and contemporary works by seasoned playwrights. For more information on their season, you may contact them by phone at 954-673-5124, or on line at or

Ruth Younger: Crystal
Walter Lee Younger: William Barnes
Beneatha Younger: Me'lissa Smith
Lena Younger: Yvone ChristianaTravis Younger: Devounte Hohing
Joseph Asagai: Keith C. Wade
George Murchison: Kevin Johnson
Karl Lindner: John Fell
Bobo: Gary Simpson
Mrs. Johnson: Dorothy J. Morrison*
Narration: Jennifer Lubin

Director: Rachel Finley

*Indicates a member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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