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The Pershing Square Signature Center/The Irene Diamond Stage

The Piano Lesson

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The Piano Lesson, The Pershing Square Signature Center/The Irene Diamond Stage, NYC Show Poster
The Pershing Square Signature Center/The Irene Diamond Stage

480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Important Dates
Oct 31, 2012
Nov 18, 2012
Jan 20, 2013
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Signature Theatre Company presents August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.


Meet the Off-Broadway Family of August Wilson’s <I>The Piano Lesson</I>


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What Is the Story of The Piano Lesson?
Set in 1936 in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, The Piano Lesson centers around the Charles family, who must decide what to do with an heirloom piano that has been in the family for generations. When Boy Willie returns home from a Mississippi prison with his friend Lymon and a truck full of watermelons, he’s ready to purchase the land where his ancestors worked as slaves—if only he can find the money to buy it. He has his eyes on selling that intricately carved piano, but his sister Berniece demands that it stay in the family, even though she doesn’t play it. As tension mounts, the ghost of Sutter, the man who once owned the Charles family as slaves, comes back to haunt them.

Critics’ Reviews

[Brandon J.] Dirden, blunt, brusque, fast-talking, makes Boy Willie's verbal effusions a scrambling nonstop ride, perfectly balanced by [Roslyn] Ruff's steely, slow-burning determination.

Review by Michael Feingold from The Village Voice

The first-rate production has been directed with meticulous care and a fantastically musical ear by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Review by Linda Winer from Newsday

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Piano Lesson Like?
The fourth work in August Wilson’s ten-play Century Cycle, The Piano Lesson is a moving and colorful play about a family learning to embrace change, while still accepting and acknowledging their shared legacy. Featuring an exquisitely carved piano sculpted by Vinnie Bagwell and an expansive—although threadbare—set by Michael Carnahan, The Piano Lesson captures the flavor and humor, along with the suffering and hardship, of an African-American family living in 1936. This Pulitzer Prize winning drama is a must-see.

Is The Piano Lesson Good For Kids?
No. Drinking, heavy petting and violence is portrayed onstage in The Piano Lesson, and clocking in at nearly three hours, most children won’t have the patience to sit through the performance. Older teens who are interested in August Wilson plays or family history may enjoy this production.