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Skylight Music Theatre Announces Cast & Creative Team for RAISIN

Raisin will mark a premiere for Skylight Music Theatre.

Skylight Music Theatre Announces Cast & Creative Team for RAISIN

Skylight Music Theatre today announced the cast and creative team for Raisin, running April 8-24, 2022. Raisin is an uplifting musical adaptation of the award-winning play, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Raisin won the 1974 Tony Award and the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Musical.

Performances will take place in the beautiful Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. Skylight is Milwaukee's professional Equity music theatre company. Safety requirements are in effect, including masks while indoors and proof of vaccination or negative Covid test.

Set in Chicago in 1951, Raisin follows the struggles of a Chicago family who were the first African Americans to buy a house in the all-white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. Ambition nearly rips the family apart as they travel from jubilation to heartbreak to ultimate triumph while reaching for a piece of the American Dream.

The play A Raisin in the Sun was critically acclaimed when it premiered on Broadway in 1959. Accolades continued after it became a film in 1961 starring Sidney Poitier. More success followed in 1973 with the adaptation into the Broadway musical Raisin, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Original Score. The music, combining jazz, gospel and 70s pop, went on to win the Grammy Award for the original cast show album.

Creative Team Led by Broadway's Kenneth L. Roberson

Raisin will be directed and choreographed by veteran director and choreographer Kenneth L. Roberson, making his Skylight debut. On Broadway, Roberson choreographed Avenue Q, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and the Elvis Presley musical All Shook Up, among others.

"The people and the story are the real stars of this piece," said Roberson. "Raisin is driven by the powerful story of A Raisin in the Sun, but the way that music and dance is used and incorporated bring it to a whole new level."

Skylight Premiere

Raisin will mark a premiere for Skylight Music Theatre. Artistic Director Michael Unger selected the show for Skylight's season, inspired by his own vivid memories of seeing the musical on Broadway when he was younger.

"I have never forgotten that formative theatre experience," said Unger. "Certain shows just stick with you because of their phenomenal score and message. It is surprising that this musical is seldom produced, considering it won the Best Musical Tony Award and was nominated for an additional eight, and won a Grammy Award as well. Raisin is as important a story to tell now as when the play was written. We are so proud to bring this powerful and beautiful piece to Skylight."

Music Director is Christie Chiles Twillie, who music directed Skylight's productions of Newsies, Five Guys Named Moe, and The Gospel at Colonus, among others.

Hansberry's Best Play of the Year Leads to Award-Winning Film and Musical

When A Raisin in the Sun first appeared on Broadway in 1959, Hansberry became the first black woman to have a play produced on Broadway and the youngest American to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Year. In 1961, the film version of A Raisin in the Sun won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Screen Writer's Guild Award for Hansberry's screenplay.

In 1973, Raisin premiered on Broadway and ran for more than two years. It won two Tony Awards for Best Musical and for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for actress Virginia Capers, who played Mama Lena Younger. In 1975, Raisin had a record-breaking national tour and won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

The New York Times called Raisin, "Pure magic...dazzling...tremendous" and said it "warms the heart and touches the soul with a human dimension that takes the measurement of man." Broadway World said it is "one of the most passionate pieces of art you will see" and Chicago Tribune said it "packs a dramatic punch."

Raisin was previously scheduled for performances at Skylight Feb. 11-27, but required a scheduling change after other shows in Skylight's schedule were postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated company. Current ticketholders have been moved into their corresponding new dates and contacted by the Box Office.

Performance Details:

Skylight Premiere

RAISIN

April 8-24, 2022

Book by Robert Nemiroff and Charlotte Zaltzberg
Music by Judd Woldin
Lyrics by Robert Brittan
Based on the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Directed and choreographed by Kenneth L. Roberson (Original choreographer Avenue Q and All Shook Up on Broadway)

Skylight's production of Raisin is sponsored by Jan Serr & John Shannon

Recommended for ages 10 and up.

RAISIN CREATIVE TEAM

Director and Choreographer - Kenneth L. Roberson***

Music Director - Christie Chiles Twillie

Scenic Designer - Christopher Rhoton**

Costume Designer - Gregory Graham

Lighting Designer - Steve Tonar

Sound Designer - Megumi Katayama**

Production Stage Manager - Kelly Ruth Cole*

Associate Choreographer - Morgan Williams

*** The Director/Choreographer is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union

** The Scenic and Sound designers are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829

RAISIN CAST (in order of speaking)

Ruth Younger - Melanie Loren*

Mrs. Johnson/Althea - Raven Dockery

Walter Lee Younger - J. Daughtry*

Travis Younger - Josiah Jacobs

Beneatha Younger - Camara Stampley

Lena Younger (Mama) - Wydetta Carter*

Bobo Jones - Shawn Holmes

Willie Harris - Marvin Hannah

Joseph Asagai - Denzel Taylor

Pastor's Wife - Erica Brown

Karl Lindner - Chase Stoeger



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