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The Piano Lesson on Broadway

The Piano Lesson on Broadway

New York, NY
Samuel L. Jackson. Danielle Brooks. John David Washington. Need we say more?
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About The Piano Lesson on Broadway

August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork THE PIANO LESSON returns to Broadway in the event of the season, starring Academy Award® winner Samuel L. Jackson, Screen Actors Guild Award® nominee John David Washington, and Tony® and Emmy® nominee Danielle Brooks, directed by Tony nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson.

A battle is brewing in the Charles household. At the center lies the family’s prized heirloom piano. On one side, a brother plans to build the family fortune by selling it. On the other, a sister will go to any length to keep it and preserve the family history. Only their uncle stands in between. But even he can’t hold back the ghosts of the past.

THE PIANO LESSON is the play for now. It reaches into the souls of the present, revealing startling truths about how we perceive our past—and who gets to define our legacy.

Tell Me More

See an all-star cast lead the first revival of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson on Broadway this fall. Set an alert for The Piano Lesson tickets on TodayTix.

The Piano Lesson is a play about family history: what to keep, what to let go of, and the best way to honor the suffering of one's ancestors. At the center of this tale are Willie and Berneice, two adult siblings in possession of a treasured family heirloom, a hand-carved piano. They're in a deadlock over what to do with it: Willie wants to sell it and use the money to buy the land where their enslaved ancestors once worked as an act of reclamation. But Berneice wants to keep the piano, as the carvings on it are the faces of two of those very ancestors: their great-grandmother and her son.

The show, set in 1936 Pittsburgh, plays out over a series of seven scenes in which the past and present collide. The family's deep history gradually gets revealed, mainly by the siblings' uncle, Doaker Charles. Berneice especially is reluctant to share the family's troubled past, particularly with her children. And throughout the show, the ghosts of their ancestors' slave owner haunts their house, making the decision even more fraught. Which option will drive that specter away while also preserving the history that should be preserved?

The premiere of The Piano Lesson took place in 1987 at Yale Repertory Theatre in Connecticut, with productions at Boston's Huntington Theatre Company and Chicago's Goodman Theatre following. The cast from the Chicago production stayed on for the premiere of The Piano Lesson on Broadway in 1990. That year, the show got five Tony nominations, including Best Play, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The play was revived off Broadway in 2012, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and starring Chuck Cooper and Brandon J. Dirden. Ten years later, a celebrity cast heads up the first Broadway revival. Doaker is played by Oscar winner Samuel L. Jackson, known for Pulp Fiction, Do the Right Thing, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and many more; his career earned him the Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement.

Playing his niece is Danielle Brooks, a Tony nominee for The Color Purple and star of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black. As Willie is John David Washington, a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee for his role in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansmen.

Set an alert for tickets to The Piano Lesson in New York on TodayTix.

What to Watch For

  • August Wilson wrote The Piano Lesson as the fourth play in his Pittsburgh Cycle. The Cycle is a collection of 10 plays, each set during a different decade of the 20th century, exploring Black life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • A love of Wilson's work runs in the family! John David Washington is the son of multi-award-winning actor Denzel Washington, who won the Tony Award for starring in Wilson's Fences and also directed, produced, and starred in the four-time Oscar-nominated film adaptation. Denzel Washington also produced the 2020 film adaptation of Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
  • There's another family affair related to this Piano Lesson revival, too. Director LaTanya Richardson Jackson, a Tony-nominated actor, is Samuel L. Jackson's wife of more than 40 years.
  • With this revival, LaTanya Richardson Jackson makes her Broadway directorial debut and becomes the first woman to direct an August Wilson play on Broadway.
  • The producers of the Ma Rainey's Black Bottom film are reported to be developing a film adaptation of The Piano Lesson, too, with the current Broadway cast.
  • The Piano Lesson is playing Broadway's Barrymore Theatre. There is another Broadway theatre bearing August Wilson's name, but none of his plays have appeared there since the venue was named for him in 2005 (one of his plays, King Hedley II, played there in 2001). Maybe his next revival will!
Start date

September 19th, 2022

End date

January 22nd, 2023


Broadway, Play


Barrymore Theatre


Tickets are not currently available. Set an alert and we'll tell you when more tickets go on sale.

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