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After 42 years, it’s back.

The Astoria Performing Arts Center will kick off “Raisin” at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church on Crescent Street tonight. The play will run through May 27 with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. and on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

A musical adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry and Robert Nemiroff’s novel “A Raisin in the Sun,” the play examines human adaptation to change and intra-family relationships amid racial prejudice in segregated Chicago in 1951. It debuted on Broadway in 1973 and had a 847-show run while amassing two Tony Awards and seven additional Tony nominations. A national tour followed, but “Raisin” never returned to New York City — until now.

The plot is rife with conflict. Siblings Walter and Beneatha and their matriarchal mother, Lena, receive an insurance payout. Walter, who has a wife and a young son, makes a modest living as a limousine driver. He desperately wants to become wealthy and has a “can’t miss” plan to invest in a liquor store with two street-smart acquaintances. Meanwhile, Lena is very religious and opposed to making money via the sale of alcohol. She wants to purchase a house in an all-white, middle class neighborhood and leave their two-bedroom apartment in a slum.

Lena makes a down-payment on a house first, but then she allows Walter to have the rest of the money with the stipulation that $3,000 go to Beneatha’s medical school tuition. Sub-plots then develop as one of Walter’s partners disappears with the money and a white man offers to buy the family’s home at an elevated price. At the same time, Beneatha does some soul-searching as she develops one relationship with a wealthy, educated, assimilated black man and another with a Nigerian immigrant who is extremely proud of his African heritage.

The drama features a pulsing score tinged with elements of jazz, gospel, and blues composed by Judd Woldin, who went on to become the pianist at Windows on the World. Robert Brittan wrote the lyrics, which intensify the narrative and mock the time’s covert racism. For example, one song repeats the line “We are so polite…We don’t ride at night.”

General tickets cost $18 each, but students and seniors pay $12.

Photo: APAC


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