Diahann Carroll is known for her legendary career in television and on Broadway, but unfortunately for fans of Carrol, those who were excited to see her in Broadway’s A Raisin in the Sun will not be able to.
The actress who was set to star in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun has decided to drop out. According to the New York Times, Diahann Carroll has dropped out due to “the demands of the vigorous rehearsal schedule and the subsequent eight-performances-a-week playing schedule.”
Carroll was scheduled to hit the stage as Lena Younger opposite Denzel Washington as Walter Lee Younger. The role of Lena Younger is essential to the story. She is the matriarch of the family, the domestic worker of the household, and is extremely important to the way African Americans were seen when the play debuted.
Based on the words by Langston Hughes and the original production, Lena Younger defied stereotypes as she was originally played by Lorraine Hansberry, a dark skinned actress who overrided the self-sacrificing mammy stereotype of its time.
As stated, this wouldn’t have been the first time Diahann Carroll was on the big stage. Her first stage debut was in House of Flowers in 1954 followed by No Strings, Same Time Next Year, Agnes of God, Love Letters, Sunset Boulevard, and On Golden Pond.
This isn’t the first time Diahann Carroll has been replaced on a big Broadway show. Leslie Uggams replaced Carroll in 2004 in the production On Golden Pond.
When Carroll dropped out in 2004 it was due to an injury that aggravated a previous condition and left the actress with a herniated disk and severe muscle pain. At the time a statement was released by producer Jeffrey Finn:
“Everyone associated with On Golden Pond is heartbroken that Diahann Carroll won’t be able to join us in Washington. A driving force of this production from the beginning, a consummate performer and a dear, personal friend, her participation will be greatly missed. We are extremely fortunate that Leslie Uggams has agreed to step in with such short notice.”
For this year’s Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, Diahann Carroll’s replacement is a much younger actress named LaTanya Richardson Jackson. At 64-years-old Jackson is only a few years older than Denzel Washington who is supposed to be her son. It should be noted that LaTanya is actor Samuel L. Jackson’s wife.
A Raisin in the Sun is set to start on March 8 with an opening night of April 3.