Broadway's revival of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson completes its extended run at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre January 29. Previews began September 19 ahead of its October 13 opening night. Read the reviews here.
Set in Pittsburgh's Hill District in 1936, The Piano Lesson follows a brother and sister who are embroiled in a battle over a family heirloom: a piano hand-carved by an enslaved ancestor.
Tony nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson, the first woman to direct an August Wilson play on Broadway, helms the production which stars Samuel L. Jackson as Doaker Charles, John David Washington as Boy Willie, and Danielle Brooks as Berniece, joined currently in the cast by Michael Potts as Wining Boy, Ray Fisher as Lymon, Charles Browning as Avery, April Matthis as Grace, and Nadia Daniel and Jurnee Swan as Maretha at alternating performances. Trai Byers originated the role of Avery before departing the production January 15. Continuing as understudies are Peter Jay Fernandez, Sharina Martin, Warner Miller, Doron JePaul Mitchell, and Kim Sullivan.
The creative team also includes Tony-winning music director Jason Michael Webb, who composed new music for the revival, Tony-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt, Tony-nominated costume designer Toni-Leslie James, Tony-nominated lighting designer Japhy Weideman, Tony-winning sound designer Scott Lehrer, Drama Desk-nominated designer Cookie Jordan, Tony-winning projection designer Jeff Snug, and choreographer Otis Sallid. Casting is by Calleri, Jensen, Davis, and general management is by Foresight Theatrical.
Following the show, The Piano Lesson's titular prop heads to The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture where it will become a permanent resident. Designed by the show's scenic designer Beowulf Boritt, the piano was built at BB props in Little Falls, New York.
The revival was also taped for the Lincoln Center Theatre on Film and Tape Archives January 26, with Byers returning for one night only so that the filming would include the production's entire original Broadway cast.
Wilson's play originally made its world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987 with Samuel L. Jackson starring as Boy Willie. In 1990, the play was staged at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, and subsequently transferred to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama received Tony nominations for Best Play, Best Direction of a Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Actor in a Play, and Best Featured Actress in a Play.