Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington, and Danielle Brooks will star in a new Broadway revival of August Wilson's Pulitzer-winning The Piano Lesson at the St. James Theatre, with performances beginning September 19 for a 16-week limited run. Tony nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson, wife to Samuel J., will direct the production, becoming the first woman to direct a Wilson play on the Main Stem in her Broadway directorial debut.
Jackson, who returns to the work after creating the role of Boy Willie in the work's 1987 world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre, will star as Doaker Charles, with Washington as Boy Willie and Brooks as Berniece. Additional casting is to be announced.
The play is the fourth in Wilson's Century Cycle, which explores the Black experience in every decade of the 20th century with such works as Fences, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and Jitney, among others. The Piano Lesson is set in Pittsburgh's Hill District in 1936, with a brother and sister embroiled in a battle over a family heirloom piano carved with the faces of their ancestors. The work had its world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987 starring Jackson, and made its Broadway debut via a Goodman Theatre production in 1990, starring Carl Gordon, Charles S. Dutton, and S. Epatha Merkerson. The work would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and New York Drama Critics' Circle and Drama Desk Awards for Best Play, along with a Peabody. The upcoming production will be its first Broadway revival.
"August Wilson dedicated his life and devoted his talent to dramatizing our stories and our experience," shares Richardson Jackson in a statement. "In doing so, he forever changed what it means to be Black in America. His plays built empathy, created community, and showed us the power of representation. The Piano Lesson is one of his most enduring, profound, and consequential masterpieces, and I am reveling in this opportunity to present it to Broadway audiences for the first time since its premiere."
Richardson Jackson, a Tony nominee for her performance in the 2014 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, will lead a creative team that includes scenic designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designer Toni-Leslie James, lighting designer Japhy Weideman, sound designer Scott Lehrer, and wig designer Cookie Jordan. Casting is by Calleri, Jensen, Davis.
“We are humbled and honored to return Mr. Wilson’s work to the Broadway stage under the inspirational LaTanya Richardson Jackson," adds Moreland, Friedman, and Kirdahy, who are jointly producing the revival. "After more than 30 years, The Piano Lesson is still adding to the ever-evolving conversation about family legacy. This production is coming back to Broadway at such an exciting time for our industry as we work to rebuild—and who better than Mr. Wilson to help us.”