Broadway keeps welcoming ‘the after-pandemic-period’ with elegant productions. The Piano Lesson, the revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play prepares to leave its mark on the performing arts scene in fall season, starring Samuel L. Jackson as Doaker Charles. The actor returns to Broadway 11 years later – his last appearance was the 2011 production of The Mountaintop. Besides Jackson, John David Washington and Danielle Brooks star in the show as Boy Willie and Berniece, respectively. The starry drama also points out Tony Award nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson’s Broadway directorial debut, as well as being the first Broadway revival of the play. Performances will kick off at the St. James Theatre on September 19, and run for 16 weeks.
It was 1987 when August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson made the world premiere at Yale Repertory Theater, and Samuel L. Jackson appeared on the drama as Boy Willie back then. The play was put on the stage with a new production on Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre three years later in 1990, with Jackson as an understudy, winning New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the Peabody Award in addition to receiving Pulitzer Prize for drama and being nominated for the 1990 Tony Award for Best Play.
Director LaTanya Richardson Jackson says, The Piano Lesson is one of August Wilson’s most enduring, profound and consequential masterpieces, in her statement where she highlights the late playwright’s ingenuity to build empathy, create community, and show us the power of representation. “He dedicated his life and devoted his talent to dramatizing our stories and our experience. In doing so, he forever changed what it means to be Black in America,” she concludes. Brian Anthony Moreland, Sonia Friedman and Tom Kirdahy, the producers of the revival, reveal that the show is coming back to Broadway at such an exciting time for the industry as they work to rebuild, adding “– and who better than Mr. Wilson to help us.”
The play belongs to Wilson’s American Century Cycle which focuses on the Black experience throughout the different decades of American history over the course of ten plays. Setting in Pittsburgh’s Hill District after the Great Depression period, The Piano Lesson centers around a family heirloom – a piano which has engravings of their ancestors’ faces on, and a debate between Boy Willie (John David Washington) and his sister Berniece (Danielle Brooks) about keeping it or selling it in order to buy the land where their ancestors used to work as slaves.
Although Jackson has made over 100 films so far, and he’s in the spotlight with his latest work on Apple TV called The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey these days, it is always captivating to see a celebrity perform on Broadway. Pamela Anderson, for instance, has been announced to join the cast of Chicago recently – another Broadway show where she has made her Broadway debut. She plays the role of Roxie which has been something of a celebrity magnet over the years.
It looks like Wilson’s The Piano Lesson will be mentioned more in the following days as it was also announced before that Denzel Washington was set for a new film adaptation for Netflix again with Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington.
The Piano Lesson marks Washington’s Broadway debut while Brooks last appeared on Broadway with The Color Purple in 2015.
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Last Updated on April 18, 2022 by Dave Clark