It’s not easy being Oprah Winfrey.
She went to Monday night’s opening of “A Raisin in the Sun” to see Sean Combs and Phylicia Rashad, and every other minute a fan, usher or producer felt compelled to introduce himself. Maybe that’s why the gracious TV diva felt the need to let it all out when Rashad delivered her big despairing epiphany in act two.
“She took it all the way!” Oprah whispered to friends seated beside her. “She took it all the way!” Oprah repeated to friends seated in front of her. No matter that Rashad had not yet finished her speech. Oprah was clearly moved. She wiped tears as the stage went to black. She shook, she sighed. Then Oprah rose to give Rashad a standing ovation of one. When the lights came back up for the next scene, Oprah sat down but continued to inform her many friends, “That’s the best. I’ve been waiting a long time for that. That’s the best I’ve ever seen it!”
The chatshow queen must have confused the intimate Royale Theater with her TV soundstage; her comments were heard an aisle away. The Tony committee meets next week. Hey, how about an award for best supporting audience member?
Besides the awestruck Oprah, Beyonce, Angela Bassett, Russell Simmons, Spike Lee, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Naomi Campbell turned out to see Combs’ Broadway debut.
At the Guastavino party, “Raisin” alums Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis offered their congrats. What more could Combs ask for in a debut?
“I won’t live or die on the reviews,” Combs said. “I’ll probably not read them, but someone will make me aware of them. Right now I just want to dig deeper into this role. I’ll understand more tomorrow.”