Springer's 'Raisin' brings new life to classic story

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 22, 2014 

Since first being produced on Broadway in 1959, Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” has been adapted as a film, a TV movie and a musical — but its run at the Springer will still be a first.

This will be Director Donna Biscoe’s first production for adults.

In preparing to tell the story, which follows the Younger family as it works toward lasting prosperity in a country struggling with racial and class divisions, Biscoe said she was very conscious of the show’s decades-long legacy.

“We’ve added some elements in the show that you’ve never seen or at least, I’ve never seen in a production before, graphics and video and all that good stuff,” Biscoe said.

The graphics Biscoe refers to seem particularly exciting: she won’t reveal just exactly what one of them is, beyond that it was the idea of the set designer.

“At first I was like, ‘Oooooooh, I don’t know, should we do this?’ But the way that we’ve done it, I think, it preserves the show. It’s just an added element to it,” Biscoe said.

For some in the cast, it will be their first chance at performing the material.

"I read 'Raisin,' I think, in undergrad, and after that there was nothing, so everything is new and exciting," said Cynthia D. Barker, who plays Beneatha Younger. "I feel really honored to be amongst the roster of people all over the country who have done this play."

Others have a longer relationship with the Tony-winning play.

"'Raisin' was the first play that I ever read, back when I was in high school, and I fell in love with it. And I think the most exciting thing for me is this is my first time performing at the Springer," said Tamara L. Curry, who plays Ruth Younger.

For still others, such as Andrea Frye, it will be a return to an old standby. (Frye directed a production of “Raisin” for the Springer in 1996.)

Their different backgrounds were a plus, not a minus; the ensemble quickly meshed.

"The audience is going to see a real family. In these short few weeks, we have become a real family," Barker said. "We just gelled day one."

Curry said their on-stage dynamics influenced their interactions off-stage — and vice-versa.

"Even when we're with each other off-stage, we just fit into our roles. Cynthia and I, we have this sister relationship," Curry said.

"And it's absolutely wonderful to watch Tamara with Jalen (who plays Travis Younger, Ruth's son)," Biscoe said. "Jalen is by her side 24/7."

For the cast, the timing couldn't be better — what Barker called "the right people in the right place at the right time."

Of course, there are some timeless elements that can never be changed.

“If you love and have humor in your family, if you have conflict in your family, if your family dreams, if you love jazz music, this is the play to come and see,” Biscoe said.

IF YOU GO

“A Raisin in the Sun” is playing at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 23-25 and 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 26. Also Jan. 30-Feb. 1. Call 706-327-3688 or go to http://wwwspringeroperahouse.org for tickets and more info.

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