NEW YORK -- Tickets to watch Denzel Washington on Broadway in "A Raisin in the Sun" are hard to come by, but one man managed it -- President Barack Obama.

The president and first lady caught the American masterpiece Friday night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where it first opened more than 50 years ago. They took their seats to huge applause.

Lorraine Hansberry's play is set in 1950s Chicago. It centres on a struggling working-class black family anxiously awaiting a $10,000 insurance check and the ensuing squabbles over how to spend it.

The cast also includes LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Sophie Okonedo, Anika Noni Rose, Sean Patrick Thomas and David Cromer. The director is Kenny Leon.