A RAISIN IN THE SUN at Tri-PAC Worth the Trip

by Walter Bender

Tri-PAC and Village Productions in Pottstown opened its 2011 Collage Series Thursday night with a performance of Lorraine Hansberry’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN. This is the story of a black family’s experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago in the 1950’s. The original production opened in 1959, and had the distinction of being the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway as well as being the first Broadway play with a black director.

From L to R: Walter DeShields as “Walter” and Tene Fletcher as “Ruth” in Tri-County Performing Arts Center's A RAISIN IN THE SUN running in Pottstown PA through January 16.

Director Alana Campbell has assembled a very talented cast for this limited-run production. Belinda Wilson (Lena Younger) is fabulous as the matriarch who fights to keep her family together through all their individual and collective troubles. Walter Deshields (Walter Younger) is the son with big dreams and who fights to see them realized. Tene Fletcher (Ruth) is Walter’s wife, enduring his anger and dealing with all of her family’s problems with strength and dignity. Chartel Findlater (Beneatha) is the daughter who dreams of becoming a doctor, and who is on her own journey of self-discovery. Favian Harris (Travis) is the son of Walter and Ruth, learning all of life’s lessons from his family’s experiences. They are joined in this beautiful story by Jermaine Evans (Joseph Asagai), Isiah Robinson (George Murchison), Steve Reazor (Mr. Lindner), Marc Sherfield (Bobo), Kellie Soleil (Mrs. Johnson), Karina Harris (Baby Girl Johnson), Dustin Poole (Moving Man #1) and Brandon Pace-Jerry (Moving Man #2.)

The set is cramped, accurately depicting the apartment the family would have lived in, with period furniture close, yet allowing the cast ample room to operate. The costumes were very well done, keeping within the period yet showing the differences between the haves and have-nots. And a skilled stage crew keeps the scene changes moving.

The individual performances are all excellent, but the show does have a few (easily correctible) issues. The pace of the show drags at times, making the show run long. Some of the blocking looks forced, with the actors moving because they were directed to do so instead of making the movements their own. And, some of the props were very non-50’s to the discerning eye. However, none of these issues are major, and certainly nothing to make you miss this production. The performances are all first-rate, the story very moving. This show has a VERY limited run…it closes on Sunday. Make the time to come to Pottstown to see this wonderful production. Congratulations to Tri-PAC for another moving evening of theatre.

by Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Alana Campbell
January 13-16, 2011
Tri-County Performing Arts Center (Village Productions)
245 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464

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