Samuel L. Jackson will return to Broadway next season after a 10-year absence with a revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Piano Lesson, to be directed by LaTanya Richardson Jackson in her Broadway directorial debut. Co-starring John David Washington and Danielle Brooks, The Piano Lesson will begin performances on Monday, September 19, at the St. James Theatre.
Richardson Jackson, a Tony-nominated actor for her performance in 2014’s A Raisin In The Sun, will be the first woman ever to direct an August Wilson play on Broadway.
“August Wilson dedicated his life and devoted his talent to dramatizing our stories and our experience,” said Richardson Jackson, who is married to Jackson and most recently starred as Calpurnia in the Broadway production of To Kill A Mockingbird. “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.”
Washington, the son of actor Denzel Washington, has appeared in such films as BlacKkKlansman and Tenet and is featured in David O. Russell’s upcoming Canterbury Glass. Brooks was Tony-nominated for her performance in 2015’s The Color Purple and is known to TV audiences for her roles on Peacemaker and Orange is the New Black.
The Piano Lesson is the fourth play in Wilson’s American Century Cycle, and premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987 starring a then-39-year-old Jackson as Boy Willie, the role that will be played next season by Washington. Jackson was an understudy in the role when the original Broadway production opened three years later. (In 2011, he starred in the Broadway production of The Mountaintop as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)
The revival will be produced by Brian Anthony Moreland (Thoughts of a Colored Man), Sonia Friedman (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and Tom Kirdahy (Hadestown).
In a joint statement, the producers said, “We are humbled and honored to return Mr. Wilson’s work to the Broadway stage under the inspirational LaTanya Richardson Jackson. 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.”
Set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1936, A Piano Lesson follows a brother and sister who 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.” Jackson will star as Doaker Charles, with Washington as Boy Willie and Brooks as Berniece.
Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, owner and operator of the St. James, said, “Over 30 years ago, Jujamcyn began a deep and meaningful association with August Wilson when The Piano Lesson first opened on Broadway, so we are especially grateful to be part of welcoming it home once again.”
The design team for The Piano Lesson includes Beowolf Boritt (Set Design), Toni-Leslie James (Costume Design), Japhy Weideman (Lighting Design), Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), and Cookie Jordan (Wig Design).
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