NEW YORK (PIX11) — The cast of the upcoming Broadway production of American playwright August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” is ready to take the stage at the Barrymore Theatre.
Constanza Romero, the late playwright’s wife and executor of his estate, couldn’t be prouder of the cast.
“When I heard all the voices coming together at the first rehearsal, it was like ‘oh my God, Piano Lesson is coming alive again,’” Romero said.
Wilson’s classic play debuted on Broadway in 1990 starring Charles Dutton. It is set in Pittsburgh in 1936, with a brother, Boy Willie, and a sister, Berniece, locked into a battle over the fate of a piano, a family heirloom carved with the faces of their ancestors.
Samuel L. Jackson played Boy Willie in the 1987 debut of the play at the Yale Repertory Theatre and was Dutton’s understudy on Broadway. In this production, Jackson returns as the siblings’ uncle, Doaker Charles.
“It takes a second or so to get your stage legs back under you,” Jackson said.
For Danielle Brooks, who plays Berniece, it’s a full-circle moment, taking her back to her first audition to get into The Juilliard School.
“The Piano Lesson was actually the first August Wilson play that I read in high school. Then I auditioned with the monologue of Berniece for Juilliard,” Brooks said.
For Broadway newcomer Ray Fisher, it’s also a full-circle moment. As a struggling actor, he bartended at the Barrymore Theatre.
“I’m blessed that I get to try my hand at this because this is a role that I don’t generally get to explore,” Fisher said.
Also new to the Broadway stage is John David Washington, whose father, Denzel Washington, co-starred in the movie version of August Wilson’s “Fences.” He’ll be taking the stage as Boy Willie, opposite the man who originated the role.
“It’s a dream come true,” John David Washington said. “I find myself while I’m in scenes in rehearsal – both he and Michael Potts who I hold very high – I stop myself sometimes and think ‘I can’t believe I’m in a scene with these guys.’”
Potts, a Broadway veteran, plays the role of Doaker’s brother, Wining Boy.
“It’s fun. I get to joke around with Samuel L. Jackson, who plays my younger brother in the piece. With the younger actors who are having some of their first experiences with August Wilson, it’s extraordinary,” Potts said.
Rounding out the cast is “Empire” actor Trai Byers and Obie Award-winning actress April Matthis.
TaTanya Richardson Jackson – who is Samuel L. Jackson’s wife – is directing the play. She promises audiences will be blown away by the talent of her cast.
“August Wilson provides you with a roadmap that is so beautiful and so incredible to follow that I feel like it was a plus,” TaTanya Richardson Jackson said.
Previews of “The Piano Lesson” begin at the Barrymore Theatre on West 47th Street in Manhattan on Sept. 19.