A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Clay Hillwig
A Raisin In The Sun is Being Postponed to our next season.
Details will be released when our 72nd Season is announced this summer.
After detailed consideration of the current COVID-19 epidemic, the Circle Players Board of Directors has decided to postpone our production of "A Raisin In The Sun" until a future season.
This decision was not made lightly. Our first and foremost concern is the health, safety and well-being of our patrons, performers, production teams, volunteers and the community. All outstanding original and rescheduled tickets will be refunded, include those included in a season package, unless you have already made prior arrangements with Circle Players.
During this difficult and uncertain time, we are thankful to be a part of the Nashville arts community with all of you - our friends, colleagues and patrons.
We wish you continued health and look forward to seeing you back at the Looby Theatre in the fall.
Meet the Cast
(in alphabetical order)
Leon Blandon is excited to show his acting versatility and work with Circle Players again! Although it’s been over 2 years for an onstage performance with this company, he was last seen in Civil War, the Musical as Benjamin with Street Theatre Company. Other Theater credits include: Shakespeare in Hollywood (Daryl), Take me Out (Davey Battle), Memphis the Musical (Wailin Joe), Bare: A Pop Opera (Lucas), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the Musical (James Monroe), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Anthony Martini). This production holds a special place in Leon's heart for its cultural awareness, and Clay Hillwig couldn't have picked a more artistically talented cast for this one.
Mary D. Cheecks
Mary D. Cheeks is a Senior at Austin Peay University and is pursuing a double major BS in Criminal Justice, Homland Security and BFA Theatre, Acting and Directing. Credits include: Fidler on the Roof (Fruma Sarah and Chava), The Odd Couple (Vera), The Beaux Stratagem (Lady Bountiful), Doubt (Mrs. Muller), Oklahoma! (Ado Anne Carns), and The Vagina Monologues (My Angry Vagina). Mary is honored to be participating this production of A Rasin in the Sun.
Lena Younger (Mama)
Keisha Cunningham is a native of Cincinnati. She expressed a love for “the stage” early in life by entertaining her family at holiday gatherings and reunions. Never one to turn down an opportunity to shine she was active around her community, in school plays, talent shows and pageants. To date Keisha has landed roles as a model, in professional theater, national commercials, primetime television and cable television. Never to be settled with the level of knowledge and “just talent,” she enrolled in the local comedy club improv classes to hone her comedic skills. Keisha is the mother of 26yr old twins and a licensed cosmetologist.
Britney Heights is both honored and elated to be making her debut with the Circle Players in the production of Lorraine Hansberry's classic, A Raisin in the Sun. Though Britney has dabbled in several theatrical productions over the years, she has and continues to seek out opportunities in film. Britney's most recent work, Black Beauty (an independent short film) was awarded the Best Ensemble Cast in student film by the 54 hour film festival. Aside from the arts, this Nashville native enjoys receiving continued education from the school of YouTube, soaking up sunshine whenever possible, and spending quality time with her loved ones.
Leonard Ledford III
Leonard Ledford III (George) is an actor, writer and director. He has been seen in the Nashville area on stage performing in productions with The Destiny Theater Experience, Dream 7 Productions, The Humanity Theatre Project & Centerstage Theatre Co. His most recent performances include The D, Sweat, and The Piano Lesson. This is his first time performing with Circle Players.
Tianna McKinney is an actress/rap artist who also goes by the name of ADiGE' which stands for A Diamond in God's Eyes. Her passion for acting began when she was around seven years old and her greatest inspiration for acting came from watching Jada Pinkett Smith play college student, Lena James, on A Different World. Tianna began her acting career in a children's skit called Hinds Foot on Dry Places (Pride) at her home church in Nashville, TN. She has also been seen in The Centralia Experience (Bae, Gosspa Productions) and Walk A Mile In My Shoes (Kimberly Marx, Alvin Moore Entertainment). Tianna " ADiGE' " McKinney has been ﬁnding ways to balance her acting and music career along with her other gifts and talents as she approaches this new journey of expressing them all.
Alan R.H. Nettles was born for the stage. His mother, a famed opera star, performed a supporting role in Verdi’s Macbeth while Nettles swam around in her womb. From conception to birth, Nettles was destined to become an invigorating artist.
Alan is a writer, director, and producer. He owns Moving4ward Productions, a startup
production company that specializes in bringing diverse content to the masses through the medium of film, television, and theatre.
His portrayal of the character “BoBo” is highly significant because he doesn’t see BoBo as an ignorant fool, but an emotionally fragile character of strength and duty within the black man. He humbly thanks his mom, dad, sister, and four legged child “Pete” for their love and support.
Cabot is excited to return to the Circle Players stage after nearly 30 years, having previously appeared in The Man Who Came to Dinner (Banjo). Most recently Cabot appeared in Death of a Salesman (Willy Loman) at Pull-Tight Theatre. It is an honor for Cabot to be a part of this cast and crew as they bring Lorraine Hansberry’s courageously written classic of American drama to life. Cabot extends a heartfelt thanks to his biggest fans and source of encouragement, his wife Deborah and their children Jesse and Charlie.
Walter Lee Younger
Vondell has acted in over 40 productions including Broadway, television & film. He earned his MFA in acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts and his BFA from North Carolina A&T where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.
He won a National Best Performance honor at the John F. Kennedy Center and Best Runner Up/Best Feature awards for his feature film Sophisticated Romance.
His mission is to provide life-changing information through education, entertainment and personal encouragement which inspires his work as an actor, director, and writer. He worked 20 years as an artseducator with Upward Bound, the McCarter Theater in Princeton and other NJ theaters.
Past stage credits include Blues For An Alabama Sky, Bus Stop, The Color of Justice, A Raisin In The Sun, Midsummer Summer Night’s Dream, Black, Purlie and Bishop TD Jakes Cover Girls. He last played Reverend Sykes in To Kill A Mockingbird at The Roxy in Clarksville and has a recurring role in the Instagram web series Gone Viral.
In his debut "dream role" with Circle Players he’d like to thank Clay, the producers and his baby sister Jamila for encouraging him to "get back on stage." Thanks, Mom & family, The TAB (church family), City Council and the community for your love & support! By Day, Vondell is a leadership and sales trainer, business coach and is most proud to serve as Clarksville City Councilman of Ward 2.
LaDon Williams is excited to be performing in his first leading role as Travis in A Raisin in the Sun. A 4th Grader at Hazelwood Elementary School out of Clarksville, TN, with no experience but a passion for acting. LaDon will spend his summer touring different theatrical productions and Performing Arts Centers throughout Tennessee. Upon entering the 5th Grade, LaDon hopes to attend a school that offers performing arts classes so that he can continue to seek out Broadway roles. He is an advanced reader and also enjoys music arts. LaDon thanks his parents and siblings for always letting him pursue his dreams. He is also profoundly grateful for director Clay Hillwig and his faith in him.
This is Clay’s tenth turn at the helm as a director for Circle Players. He has been acting and directing on stage and film in the Nashville area since 2000. A few of his favorite directorial credits include, Equus, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Color Purple- The Musical (Best Director & Best Show 2012), A Raisin in the Sun (Best Theater Production Nashville Scene’s “Best of Nashville 2011”)The Grapes of Wrath (Best Director 2010), Oliver! The Musical (Best Show 2008). He is married to Suzanne Hillwig and between them they have four wonderful children and five beautiful grandchildren. Clay would like to thank Circle Players for allowing him to be part of the 70 years of rich Tennessee theater history. He is also grateful to his wonderful cast and crew, for entrusting him with this incredible project. And wishes to say “thank you” to Lorraine Hansberry for introducing us all to the Younger family. Clay would like to dedicate this production to the memory of his beautiful sister Leanne Hively, who on Jan 1st, 2020 was taken home after a courageous battle with Cancer. “Be at peace Lea…we got this!!!”
About the Playwright
Lorraine Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930, in Chicago, IL. She wrote A Raisin in the Sun, a play about a struggling black family, which opened on Broadway to great success. Hansberry was the first black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics' Circle Award. Throughout her life, she was heavily involved in civil rights. She died at the age of 34 of pancreatic cancer.
For more information, read her full biography at