Sean Combs, better known as rap star P. Diddy, will make his Broadway debut this season in a revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansbury’s landmark drama about a black family moving into an all-white Chicago neighborhood.
“It is an American classic alongside ‘Streetcar,’ ‘Death of a Salesman’ and ‘The Crucible,”’ producer David Binder said Wednesday. “And it has never had a Broadway revival.”
The production, to be directed by Kenny Leon, will most likely begin rehearsals in mid-February, with preview performances starting in mid-March and an opening a month later, Binder added. The exact dates, the rest of the casting and the theater will be announced.
“We are approaching very seasoned New York theater actors” to fill out the rest of the cast, the producer said, declining to be more specific. Combs has no stage experience. He has appeared in the movies “Made” and “Monster’s Ball.”
Binder said he contacted Combs last September after a mutual acquaintance suggested that Combs “was interested in doing serious, challenging work in the theater.”
Combs auditioned several times for the producer, the casting director and Leon over the course of the fall. “We were all incredibly impressed — he’s focused on the work,” said Binder, a producer of such off-Broadway hits as “De La Guarda” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Binder said he chose Leon, former head of the Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta, because the director “respects writing. ... He’s interested in serving the play.”
The original production, which starred Sidney Poitier, Claudia MacNeil, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands, was a success on Broadway in 1959 and later as a 1961 movie with the same lead cast.
It was made into a Broadway musical, starring Virginia Capers and Joe Morton, in 1973.
The title comes from a line in a poem by Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred?/Does it dry up/Like a raisin in the sun?”