How Diddy Do?

UPDATED 05/10/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/10/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT

So you want to be a master thespian? Take some tips from P. Diddy, who made his Broadway debut April 26 in A Raisin in the Sun:

Even offstage, the record magnate, rapper and fashion designer billed as Sean Combs, 34, took to wearing cheap, baggy shorts—the sort his character Walter Lee Younger, a struggling chauffeur in the '50s, might wear. "I had my assistant go to a five-and-dime and get like the most inexpensive underwear you can have," says Combs, adding that his girlfriend Kim Porter called him Walter Lee too. "I've been that crazy with it." Though he studied with Nicole Kidman's sometime acting coach Susan Batson, the reviews were mixed. Wrote Ben Brantley in The New York Times: "There is rarely a flicker of transforming feeling on his handsome, self-assured face."

That guarantees an opening night audience of big, big stars. "This," says Oprah Winfrey, "is historic."

Backstage, "I had a glass of champagne. I toasted to Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee and the original cast. We're standing on the shoulders of giants and taking it to the next generation," says Combs. Most of all, "I just thank God I didn't pass out."

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