Sean Combs heads an all-star cast in "A Raisin in the Sun," Monday on ABC. But back in the 50s, the original Broadway show featured a young Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee.
There was also a Triangle connection, an actor from North Carolina Central University. "Ivan Dixon was also in the production," said NCCU Theatre Department Head Johnny Alston. "Ivan Dixon was a graduate of this department here at NCCU. So it has a special meaning for us!"
An earlier televised version of the play, starring Esther Rolle and Danny Glover is also close to Alston's heart. The drama professor's niece had a starring role. "Kim Yancy Moore plays the character of Beneatha in that play", Alston told us.
North Carolina Central's Drama Department has produced "Raisin" three times.
The latest Broadway version also starred Combs as Walter Lee Younger. "There was a great deal of interest in Combs playing the role, Alston said. Most people know him solely as a hip hop personality." But he got good reviews from New York Theatre critics.
Some people are hoping that tonight's version of "A Raisin in the Sun" will not only get people interested in checking out earlier recorded versions of the play. It could also increase interest in live theater itself.