Producers Brian Anthony Moreland, Sonia Friedman, Tom Kirdahy, Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker have announced that the anticipated first Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Piano Lesson, which comes more than 30 years after the seminal drama’s premiere, will now play a limited, 17-week engagement at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre from 19 September 2022.
The Barrymore’s history with Wilson’s legacy stretches back to 1988, when the original production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (the second play in his American Century Cycle) premiered there to glowing reviews, earning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.
The Piano Lesson will be directed by Tony Award® nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson – who is making her Broadway directorial debut and will be the first woman to ever direct an August Wilson play on Broadway – and stars Samuel L. Jackson as Doaker Charles, John David Washington as Boy Willie, and Danielle Brooks as Berniece. The cast also features Trai Byers as Avery, Ray Fisher as Lymon, April Matthis as Grace, and Michael Potts as Wining Boy.
Samuel L. Jackson returns to the play having played Boy Willie in the original Yale Repertory Theatre premiere back in 1987.
Wilson’s American Century Cycle chronicles the Black experience throughout the 20th Century over the course of ten plays – each set in a different decade. The Cycle consists of Jitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf.
The Piano Lesson is set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1936. A brother and sister are locked in a war over the fate of a family heirloom: a piano carved with the faces of their ancestors. Only by revisiting history can the siblings endeavor to move forward. The Piano Lesson, wrote Frank Rich in The New York Times, “has its own spacious poetry, its own sharp angle on a nation’s history, its own metaphorical idea of drama and its own palpable ghosts that roar right through the upstairs window of the household where the action unfolds. Like other Wilson plays, The Piano Lessonseems to sing even when it is talking.”
The design team for The Piano Lesson includes Tony Award winner Beowolf Boritt (Set Design), Tony Award nominee Toni-Leslie James (Costume Design), Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), Drama Desk Award nominee Cookie Jordan (Wig Design), Tony Award nominee Jeff Snug (Projection Design), and Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb(Music & Music Direction). Casting is by Calleri, Jensen, Davis. General Management is by Foresight Theatrical.