Broadway's upcoming revival of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson has changed its theatre, with the production now set to begin at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre September 19 for a 17-week limited run. The revival had been previously announced for the St. James, current home to Into the Woods.
The move comes as many in the Broadway community are buzzing about a potential extension for the starry Sondheim revival. Currently scheduled to play through August 21, the production's ticketing platform SeatGeek briefly showed performances through January 2023, though no tickets were available for the new performance dates and nothing has been officially announced.
Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington, and Danielle Brooks will lead the cast of The Piano Lesson, with Tony nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson, wife to Samuel J., at the helm. Jackson will become the first woman to direct a Wilson play on the Main Stem in her Broadway directorial debut with the revival.
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.
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.