The J & BRTKC Partner to Bring A RAISIN IN THE SUN to the Stage

The show will open on Saturday, March 11 (7:30 p.m.) for a twelve regular performance run, plus student matinees.

By: Mar. 10, 2023

The J & BRTKC Partner to Bring A RAISIN IN THE SUN to the Stage

Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama "A Raisin in the Sun," comes to life on stage in a partnership production by The Lewis and Shirley White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City (The J) and the Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City (BRTKC). The show will open on Saturday, March 11 (7:30 p.m.) for a twelve regular performance run, plus student matinees. Subsequent performance dates, with student matinees, include Wednesdays March 15 & 22 (9 a.m. student matinee; 7:30 p.m. evening show): Thursdays March 16 & 23 (9 a.m. student matinee, 7:30 p.m. evening show); Saturdays March 11, 18 and 25 (7:30 p.m.) and Sundays March 12, 19 and 26 (2 p.m.). Tickets are now available at TheWhiteTheatre.org.

Student Matinees feature Special student matinee pricing at $5 with no charge for chaperones and teachers. These shows are geared toward student groups. Home-school groups are welcome. There will be a short Q&A with the cast after each student matinee.

"A Raisin in the Sun" takes its title from a Langston Hughes poem entitled "Harlem," which poses the question "What happens to a dream deferred?" Staged in 1959, Louise Hansberry's play explores how The American Dream has been deferred for any entire segment of the population, embodied by the multi-generational Younger family. The audience follows the family's internal and external struggles as they attempt to improve their financial circumstances with an insurance pay-out following the death of the family patriarch.

This heartfelt drama deals with issues that are still relevant today, such as housing discrimination, assimilation, generational divides, and racism. "Raisin in the Sun" won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play with Hansberry the youngest American and first African American playwright to win the award. The Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play was later adapted for the screen starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Louis Gossett Jr. and Claudia McNeill, who also originated their roles on Broadway.

This production of "Raisin in the Sun" marks the second collaboration between The White Theatre and the Black Repertory Theatre and is being once again underwritten by Theater League.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with The Black Repertory Theatre again, especially for such a classic as A Raisin in the Sun," said Keith Wiedenkeller, Managing Artistic Director of The White Theatre. "Last year's collaboration on 'Memphis' was such a success, both financially and artistically, it just made sense for us to find another project that would work for both our organizations." He goes on to say "These projects have been great for The White Theatre. They broaden our audience and talent reach and give us a chance to work with an amazing group of actors and artistic staff. The upside for The Black Rep is that they get to "play" in our amazing space, enjoy the support of our professional production team, and reach an audience they might otherwise miss. It's a literal 'win-win.'"

Damron Armstrong, Founder and Executive Director of BRTKC as well as director of the show, echoes Wiedenkeller's sentiments.

"We at BRTKC are super excited to be partners with The J on this Pulitzer Prize winning play. Our missions align, enriching our community by providing thought-provoking art that leads to conversation."

Armstrong, who likes to create an immersive experience for the audience, said "The design element for our production gives you the feeling you're in the world of the play." Armstrong hopes audiences will immerse themselves in the play and take away its important messages. "I hope it will open minds to expression and that which we forget we are soon to repeat," he said.

Armstrong has assembled a talented cast of local performers from across the metro for this production of "A Raisin in the Sun," with many credits at various theatres across the country.

Now in its 18th season, The White Theatre at The J presents a full slate of entertainment and educational offerings that include a Theatre Series, a Concert Series and line-up of Special Engagements, all produced by The J's Arts + Culture Department in a state-of-the-art, 500-seat performing arts community theatre. Following "A Raisin in the Sun," The White Theatre season will present another collaboration through its New Works Initiative, the musical "Vilna: A Resistance Story" partnering with The Culture House, as well as a one-man show with the support of The Truman Library Institute and Kansas City Actors Theatre. The season will close with the July 2023 musical and family favorite "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat".

The White Theatre is located at The J, 5801 W. 115th St., in Overland Park. The White Theatre box office is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as 60 minutes before curtain on performance days.

Full descriptions and performance times for each event are available at TheWhiteTheatre.org. The White Theatre is both welcoming and inclusive, providing ADA accessible-seating options, access without steps, assistive listening devices, and The J's signature open captioning system at select performances, making live theatre accessible for all patrons.

"A Raisin in the Sun" cast

(Character, performer, city of residence)

Ruth Younger: Valerie Chamberlain, Grandview, MO

Travis Younger: DJ Starr, Liberty, MO

Walter Lee Younger, "Brother": Jamel Williams, Kansas City, MO

Beneatha Younger: Brittany Evans, Kansas City, MO

Lena Younger, "Mama": Lynn King, Kansas City, MO

Joseph Asagai: E. Larry Guidry, Kansas City, MO

George Murchison: Terrace Wyatt Jr., Independence, MO

Karl Lindner: Keith Wiedenkeller, Kansas City, MO

Bobo: Dennis Jackson, Grandview, MO

About the Black Repertory Theatre

The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City (BRTKC) is a not-for-profit organization designed to impact the Kansas City community. This production company utilizes theatre productions, and educational programming to enhance the contributions made by minorities in our neighborhoods and communities and beyond. Its mission is to educate and inspire our community by presenting and promoting appreciation for African-American culture through our stories.

About The White Theatre

The Lewis & Shirley White Theatre, built in 2005, is a 500 seat, state-of-the-art venue that hosts a wide variety of performances throughout the year. Its annual theatre and concert series continues a 90+ year community theatre tradition, established in 1932, with The Resident Theatre, the region's first and longest-running community theatre. Ample free parking is available, and the theatre is entirely accessible for those of all abilities. The theatre is available for private rentals for area non-profit groups.

About The J

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City opened in 1914 in midtown Kansas City, Missouri and has grown and adapted to serve the changing needs of Greater Kansas City's Jewish and secular communities. Our mission is to build a strong, vibrant, and inclusive community that enhances wellness, meaning, and joy, based on Jewish values, heritage, and culture. We are a welcoming community that embodies Jewish values in a safe and respectful environment. People of all ages and backgrounds learn and grow at our 'home away from home.' For more information, visit TheJKC.org.




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