Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Friday, April 11, 2014 | 7:49 p.m.
NEW YORK — Tickets to watch Denzel Washington on Broadway in "A Raisin in the Sun" are hard to come by, but one man managed it — President Barack Obama.
The president and the first lady caught the American masterpiece Friday night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where it first opened more than 50 years ago. They took their seats to huge applause.
There was a 20-minute delay in the beginning of the show when an alarm flooded the theater with a piercing sound. A huge ovation greeted its end.
Lorraine Hansberry's play, set in 1950s Chicago, centers on a struggling working-class black family anxiously awaiting a $10,000 insurance check and the ensuing squabbles over how to spend it.
Besides Washington, the cast includes LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Sophie Okonedo, Anika Noni Rose, Sean Patrick Thomas and David Cromer. The director is Kenny Leon.
The Obamas have been big boosters of Broadway. First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia have attended performances of "Memphis," ''Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," ''Sister Act," ''The Trip to Bountiful," ''Motown the Musical" and "The Addams Family." And the first couple saw "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" during a date night in 2009. Michelle Obama and six girlfriends also saw "Fela!" in 2010.
This is the second Broadway revival of Hansberry's play. The original Broadway production in 1959 featured Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands, who reunited for a 1961 film adaptation. The last Broadway revival occurred in 2004, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Sanaa Lathan and Audra McDonald. It also was directed by Leon.
This time, tickets are a hot commodity. The theater has been sold out since the doors opened, and the well-received revival has pushed the average ticket price to $111 and the top premium to $348, second only to "The Book of Mormon's" top premium of $477 last week.