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posted: 2/11/2014 1:19 PM

LaTanya Richardson Jackson on sudden 'dream' role

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  • LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who was last on Broadway in the Tony-winning 2009 revival of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," was asked to take over for Diahann Carroll in next month's Broadway revival of "A Raisin in the Sun."

      LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who was last on Broadway in the Tony-winning 2009 revival of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," was asked to take over for Diahann Carroll in next month's Broadway revival of "A Raisin in the Sun."
    Associated Press File Photo

 
By Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

NEW YORK -- LaTanya Richardson Jackson came to visit New York to see some Broadway shows. Now she's in one.

Richardson Jackson, who was last on Broadway in the Tony-winning 2009 revival of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," was asked on Saturday to take over for Diahann Carroll in next month's Broadway revival of "A Raisin in the Sun."

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"This is not even serendipitous. This is a miracle," Richardson Jackson, the wife of actor Samuel L. Jackson, said Monday after a full day of rehearsal. "This is an incredible dream. I could cry, but I don't have time."

The 78-year-old Carroll withdrew over the weekend due to the vigorous demands of the rehearsal and performance schedule. Richardson Jackson got the call while she was shopping. Director Kenny Leon, who asked her to step in, didn't even know she was in New York when he dialed her cellphone.

"How it arrived, I can't question, although I can't say I wasn't upset, because I am. Carroll is a friend and I just regret that she wasn't able. I was looking so forward to seeing her in this production," said Richardson Jackson.

The new production also will star Denzel Washington, Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose. "Listen, she's already in there killing it," said Washington after the rehearsal. "She's already pushing me so that's good. I'm happy that she's here."

Richardson Jackson came to New York to see "Waiting for Godot" with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and also to check out Pauletta Washington -- Denzel's wife -- in a cabaret at Joe's Pub. Her plans for a relaxing trip ended quickly after the Broadway offer. (Her husband, who is in Atlanta shooting a film, said she had to do it.) Her Saturday night was spent signing contracts and speaking to stage managers.

"Right now, I'm just flying by the seat of my pants," she said. "I had to wrap my mind about what was actually occurring. After this long rehearsal today, I'm still just getting what I'm doing."

"A Raisin in the Sun" starts performances on March 8 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre and the opening night is April 3. Of her race to get ready, Richardson Jackson said: "It's here and we shall carry on."

Her off-Broadway credits include "From the Mississippi Delta" and "The Talented Tenth" and her TV roles have included parts on "Ally McBeal" and "100 Centre Street." She appeared in the films "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Malcolm X ."

Richardson Jackson has seen several productions of "A Raisin in the Sun," but never has been in one. At, 64, she is five years older than Washington, 59, who will be playing her son. He was last on Broadway in 2005 in a production of "Julius Caesar."

Set in the late 1950s in a rundown South Side Chicago apartment, "A Raisin in the Sun" deals with the hopes and disappointments of a black family trying to find a better life in a white neighborhood.

This will be the second Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's play. The original Broadway production in 1959 featured Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands, all who reunited for a 1961 film adaptation. The last Broadway revival occurred in 2004, starring Diddy (Sean Combs), Phylicia Rashad, Sanaa Lathan and Audra McDonald. It also was directed by Leon.

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