Denzel Washington and Sophie Okonedo in 'A Raisin in the Sun' on opening night at the Barrymore Theatre in New York, on April 3, 2014.
NEW YORK- Denzel Washington may be best known for his film roles, but the award-winning actor is dazzling theater critics in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's acclaimed 1959 play "A Raisin in the Sun."
"Heart-stopping," "a Broadway bulls-eye" and "nothing short of revelatory" are just a few of the accolades used to describe director Kenny Leon's production, which opened on Thursday at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
"It captures the play's passion, pathos and intelligence, without stinting on Hansberry's dry humor," the New York Post said.
Hansberry's story about a struggling African-American family seeking a better life after inheriting a windfall was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway.
Washington, 59, plays an ambitious chauffeur with big dreams of success but no business acumen to achieve it.
"Reprising Sidney Poitier's role, Washington is stunning as the dreamer-schemer Walter Lee Younger, whose frustration throbs at the heart of an American classic that is as deeply humorous as it is affecting," said the New York Daily News.
Trade magazine Variety described Washington's performance as a "triumph," while the New York Post said he was "incredibly believable."
Although the Academy Award winner for the 2001 crime drama "Training Day" and the 1989 Civil War film "Glory" is nearly 25 years older than Hansberry's original Walter, his energy and exuberance on stage is convincing.
"The performance is a personal triumph for Washington, who refrains from star-strutting to fold himself into a tight-knit ensemble of committed stage thesps who treat this revival like a labor of love," Variety said.
This was not Washington's first successful foray on Broadway; the actor picked up a Tony Award in 2010 for "Fences."
Washington leads an all-star cast that includes LaTanya Richardson Jackson ("Malcolm X," "Sleepless in Seattle) as his mother Lena, the strong, loving matriarch of the family.
British actress Sophie Okonedo, a best supporting Oscar nominee in 2005 for "Hotel Rwanda," makes her Broadway debut as his devoted wife, Ruth. Anika Noni Rose ("Dreamgirls" and "For Colored Girls" is his younger, intellectual sister Beneatha, a college student with dreams of attending medical school.
"LaTanya Richardson Jackson shows us the wit and grit that have sustained Lena; Sophie Okonedo, likewise, conveys Ruth's weariness and resilience to heart-wrenching effect," said USA Today.
The New York Times added: "Ms. Rose stands out as a revelatory Beneatha."
Although Washington is the star attraction, the Hollywood Reporter credits the ensemble cast for giving the revival its authentic feeling.
"The warmth as well as the frictions and frustrations of a real family ripple through this lived-in production, with an accomplished cast that nestles deep into every moment of humor, hope and sadness," it said.
Hansberry was the first African-American playwright to win the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. She died of pancreatic cancer in 1965 at the age of 34.
(This story was refiled to change "win" to "wins" in headline)
Wal-Mart representative demonstrates a Scan & Go mobile payment
application on a smartphone in San Jose, Calif., on Sept. 19, 2013.
- Big retailers are muscling in on the likes of Visa, MasterCard and
Google in a fiercely competitive and growing mobile payment market that
promises to cut transaction costs and increase customer loyalty.
such as British supermarket Tesco and France's Auchan hope their
"digital wallets" - apps which allow users to pay with their smartphones
rather than cash or cards - will also give them more comprehensive data
about customers' shopping habits than ever before so they can target
They are joining a crowded market - banks,
card companies and tech firms like Google and Apple are all entering
the mobile payment business, each hoping their app will become the
industry standard. eBay's PayPal, well established in e-commerce, is
also experimenting with the technology.
to attract customers to their own services by giving discounts and
rewards to those using them, while also linking payments automatically
to loyalty schemes and offering features like saved shopping lists.
global market for mobile payments is forecast to grow about threefold
by 2017 to some $721 billion worth of transactions, with more than 450
million users, according to research firm Gartner.
growth could benefit retailers as the competition from a host of payment
providers should help drive down the fees stores pay to have
transactions processed - a service currently dominated by banks and card
firms Visa and MasterCard.
"We view merchants as
overall beneficiaries of the trend toward mobile payments," said Morgan
Stanley, which estimated retailers in developed countries spent up to
$150 billion in 2012 to accept card payments.
returns should justify any incremental investments required in enabling
mobile payments technology," it said in a report in January.
it is still unclear how the retail mobile payment market will develop,
with card companies and banks seen retaining a leading role in
processing payments even if physical cards become obsolete.
apps might struggle to take off as customers are unlikely to be willing
to use a variety of services for different stores, but the success of
Starbucks Corp in combining mobile payments with promotions shows big
players can succeed.
the world's biggest coffee chain, launched its mobile payment and
rewards app in 2011. It already has 10 million users and the firm said
this month it is looking for ways to expand the program beyond its own
"The mobile payments platform has given us a
higher degree of frequency and higher degree of loyalty and the question
is how can we leverage that beyond our stores," Starbucks Chairman and
Chief Executive Howard Schultz told CNBC television.
alternative path is also being explored in the United States, where
dozens of top retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy have
announced plans to set up a joint digital wallet service - the Merchant
Customer Exchange, or MCX - though no launch date has been set.
an attempt to create a mobile payment app universally accepted by
retailers has recently launched in Germany. Yapital, owned by e-commerce
firm Otto, has gone live in thousands of stores and also allows users
to pay online and make peer-to-peer transfers.
Chairman Nils Winkler expects just a few players to survive of the 200
initiatives now clamoring for attention in Europe, with apps tied to
retailers more likely to win out than those being developed by telecom
and card firms.
"The biggest success in this field will
be retail-based. PayPal is a good example that has grown tremendously
based on the retail success of eBay," he said.
"CLEAR BUSINESS CASE"
the world's third-largest retailer which pioneered the tracking of
customer behavior with its Clubcard loyalty card two decades ago, will
launch its digital wallet this year, as it also starts offering current
That is part of the British supermarket
chain's eventual plan to use smartphones - and its own-brand Hudl tablet
computers - to allow customers to navigate stores with their devices
and scan products to buy them as they shop.
Albizua, co-founder of UK-based retail consultancy eNova Partnership,
said her clients were ready to invest in overhauling outdated till
systems to enable mobile payments. "People spent the last five to 10
years fine-tuning their websites. Now they have time to focus on
French supermarket group Auchan,
Europe's fifth-biggest retailer, launched its "Flash and Pay" electronic
wallet about a year ago. It combines payments with coupons, loyalty
cards, receipts and a shopping list feature.
objective is to minimize costs. To have alternatives to existing
solutions. All other solutions try to make costs for merchants," Arnaud
Crouzet, Auchan head of global payments, told the Merchant Payments
Ecosystem conference in Berlin.
"It is difficult to imagine our data on our customers going through a third party," he added.
Centre for Economics and Business Research said there was a clear
business case for digital wallets in terms of reduced costs and improved
customer service and sales.
UK retailers could have
saved 463 million pounds ($770 million) in transaction costs in 2013 by
shifting to mobile payments from cash, credit and charge cards, it
Mobile payments could reduce queue length in
stores by speeding users through tills and cut the cost of handling
cash and card payments, it said.
Handling cash - which
accounts for over half retail transactions by volume in Britain - is
costly for retailers as it needs to be counted and guarded, costs
equivalent to about 2.5 percent of takings, compared with about 2
percent for processing cheques and 1 percent for debit and credit cards.
However Carrefour, the world's second biggest retailer after Wal-Mart, thinks shoppers need more time to be convinced.
the moment, cards are still a good solution, especially contactless
ones," said Frederic Mazurier, a vice-president for finance and risk
management at Carrefour Banque. "It is going to take quite a few years