Left to right: Adrianna Jones, Darnell Benjamin, and Gladys DeVane in HSRT’s “A Raisin in the Sun”

Hope Summer Repertory Theatre will present “A Raisin in the Sun,” considered one of America’s most significant and groundbreaking plays, as the second show of its 43rd season.

Directed by renowned playwright, actor, and director Warren Bowles and featuring community talent, this landmark classic is now gracing HSRT’s stage for the first time ever in the company’s history.  Performances run on June 18, 19, 21, 24, 26, 27, and July 1 at 8 p.m. in the Knickerbocker Theatre in downtown Holland.

“A Raisin in the Sun” remains an American classic because, in the words of Bowles, it is about the “people who live around us.” The show follows the story of the Younger family, an African American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s, as they struggle for dignity and hope amidst economic and racial oppression.  A life insurance policy becomes the catalyst for their shared dream of a better life, but also provokes conflict as conflicting aspirations collide, and betrayal and racism surface.

According to Bowles, while the family’s circumstances are “inexorably linked to their race . . . it is that aspiration, that dream, to which all audiences relate.”  The play is more than a story of one family; it is about all “people who aspire to middle-class living because that is the American Dream.”  The result is a heart-rending tribute to those courageous people who dare to shape a future in the face of constant denial.

Playing the role of Lena Younger is actor and storyteller Gladys DeVane who began her theatre career at the age of 10 in Oklahoma City.  Upon retirement she has returned to theatre as an actor, writer, producer, and director.  Joining her for this show in the role of Ruth Younger is Sierra White (AEA), who received a BFA in musical theatre from Drake University and is returning to HSRT for her second summer. Also returning to HSRT is Darnell Benjamin, who is playing the role of Walter Lee.  Benjamin earned his BFA from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, followed by an MFA from the University of Houston.

In the role of Beneatha Younger is Adrianna Jones who is making her debut with HSRT this summer.  Jones has recently graduated from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater. Also making his debut as Travis Younger is Quinten Simonson, a member of the Holland community.

The supporting cast includes Khyel Roberson as Bobo, Glen Forbes as Karl Lindner, Seun Soyemi as Joseph Asagai, Churaqui Mosley as George Murchison, and Olivia Donalson.

While making his HSRT debut, Bowles has more than 40 years’ experience as an actor, director, fight choreographer, and playwright at Mixed Blood Theatre and others across the country, including The Guthrie Theater, 10,000 Things Theater, Pittsburgh City Players, A Contemporary Theatre (Seattle), Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Black Theater Alliance (NYC), Organic Theater, American Players’ Theater, and Performers Ensemble (Boston). Directing credits include Park Square Theatre, Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, San Diego Public Theatre, Theatre Le Homme Dieu, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, Interact Theater, and others. His degrees come from the University of Minnesota and the University of Notre Dame with studies at l’Université Catholique de l’Ouest. He is also the recipient of a 2005 McKnight Fellowship for Theater Artists. 

The production team for “A Raisin in the Sun” includes scenic designer Micah Maatman, lighting designer Erik Alberg, costume designer Leah Hummel, sound designer Jeffrey Levin, stage manager Rita Sobbing, managing director Rich Perez, and production manager Rachel Hasse.

Individual tickets are now on sale at the DeWitt Center Ticket Office (141 E. 12th St), which is open Mondays-Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and beginning June 14 on Saturdays from noon until intermission.  Also, the college’s downtown ticket office, located in the Anderson-Werkman Building at 100 E. Eighth St., is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Adult tickets are $24 for Mezzanine and Balcony and $21 for Obstructed.  Senior, faculty and staff tickets are at $22 for Mezzanine or Balcony and $18 for Obstructed.  Student tickets are $15. Patrons can also purchase individual tickets online by visiting hope.edu/hsrt or calling (616) 395-7890.

Ticket options also include Season Ticket Packages that save patrons up to 38 percent off individual ticket prices and guarantees a terrific seat for every performance.  Season Ticket Packages are available at both ticket locations.  The Best Buy Package offers seating for four main-stage performances for only $75 for adults, $70 for seniors and $40 for students.  The Super-Saver Package includes seating limited to the orchestra and admission to the four main-stage productions for $60 for both adults and seniors, and $40 for students.

More information is available online at hope.edu/hsrt.