August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson - directed by Tony Award® nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Thursday, April 28, 2022

August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson - directed by Tony Award® nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson

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Producers Brian Anthony Moreland, Sonia Friedman, and Tom Kirdahy announced an additional cast for the highly-anticipated revival of August Wilson’s seminal, Pulitzer Prize®-winning drama The Piano Lesson, the first Broadway revival in more than 30 years since the play’s Main Stem premiere in 1990. The production, directed by Tony Award® nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson – who is making her Broadway directorial debut and will be the first woman to ever direct an August Wilson play on Broadway – will also star Trai Byers (“Empire”) as Avery, Ray Fisher (Rebel Moon) as Lymon, April Matthis (HELP) as Grace, and Michael Potts (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) as Wining Boy. Starring Samuel L. Jackson as Doaker Charles, Danielle Brooks as Berniece, and John David Washington as Boy Willie, The Piano Lesson will begin performances on Monday, September 19, 2022, at the St. James Theatre.

Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson will be on sale exclusively for American Express® Card Members beginning tomorrow, April 27. American Express Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public tomorrow through Wednesday, May 4 at 9:59am ET by visiting

Presale tickets for August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson will be available exclusively to Audience Rewards® members and American Express® Card Members from Wednesday, May 4 at 10am ET to Monday, May 9 at 9:59am ET. It's free and fast to join the Audience Rewards program at

Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Friday, May 13 at 10am ET.


August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson is the fourth play in the American Century Cycle, which premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987, starring a then-39-year-old Samuel L. Jackson as Boy Willie. Three years later, a new production, starring Carl Gordon, Charles S. Dutton, and S. Epatha Merkerson, opened at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and soon transferred to Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre. In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama, The Piano Lesson won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the Peabody Award, and was nominated for the 1990 Tony Award for Best Play.

Wilson’s American Century Cycle chronicles the Black experience throughout the 20th Century over the course of ten plays – each set in a different decade. The Cycle consists of Jitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf. The Cycle includes five New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award winners, two Pulitzer Prize winners, and a Tony Award-winning Best Play.

The Piano Lesson is set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1936.  A brother and sister 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. The Piano Lesson wrote Frank Rich in The New York Times, “has its own spacious poetry, its own sharp angle on a nation's history, its own metaphorical idea of drama and its own palpable ghosts that roar right through the upstairs window of the household where the action unfolds. Like other Wilson plays, The Piano Lesson seems to sing even when it is talking.”

The St. James Theatre is owned and operated by Jujamcyn Theaters, who produced the original Broadway production of The Piano Lesson at their theatre, the Walter Kerr, in 1990. In 2005, Jujamcyn Theaters renamed the Virginia Theatre the “August Wilson Theatre” in honor of the Pulitzer-Prize winner. Additionally, their history with August Wilson goes back many years. Jujamcyn Theaters lead produced six original productions in Wilson’s Century Cycle, including the Broadway, runs of The Piano Lesson (1990, Walter Kerr); Two Trains Running (1992, Walter Kerr); Seven Guitars (1996, Walter Kerr); King Hedley II (2001, formerly Virginia, now the August Wilson); Gem of the Ocean (2004, Walter Kerr); and Radio Golf (2007, Cort).


The design team for The Piano Lesson includes Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt (Set Design), Tony Award nominee Toni-Leslie James (Costume Design), Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), and Drama Desk Award nominee Cookie Jordan (Wig Design). Casting by Calleri, Jensen, Davis.

Trai Byers starred on FOX’s hit show “Empire” as Andre Lyon. In 2014, he portrayed James Foreman in the Ava DuVernay directed Selma. Most recently, Byers starred in, co-wrote, and produced The 24th; the true story of the largest murder trial in US History. He holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama and is now making his Broadway debut.

Ray Fisher is best known for his breakout role as ‘Victor Stone/Cyborg’ in Warner Brothers’ DC Cinematic Universe. ‘Cyborg’ is first introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and was last seen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, where Fisher starred alongside Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, and Ezra Miller. Ray can currently be seen starring in the limited series Women of the Movement, from creator-writer Marissa Jo Cerar and a producing team that includes Jay-Z, Will Smith, and Aaron Kaplan. The six-episode series, set to premiere in 2021, centers on Mamie Till-Mobley (Adrienne Warren), who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son Emmett Till (Cedric Joe), following his brutal killing in the Jim Crow South. Fisher will play Gene Mobley, the man who would have been Emmett Till’s stepfather, if not for his murder. A devoted partner to Emmett’s mother, Mamie, Gene was considered the love of her life. They later married. On the small screen, Fisher recently starred in the third installment of HBO’s Emmy Award-winning series “True Detective” opposite Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo , and Stephen Dorff. A seasoned theater actor as well, Ray made his mark on stage earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Muhammed Ali in the Off-Broadway production, “Fetch Clay, Make Man” from Tony-Award-winning director, Des McAnuff. Ray will next be seen starring in Zach Snyder's upcoming film Rebel Moon for Netflix, opposite Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, and Djimon Hounsou.  


April Matthis is an Obie Award-winning actor and company member of Elevator Repair Service. Off-Broadway: HELP (The Shed); Toni Stone (Roundabout); Fairview, LEAR (Soho Rep); Signature Plays—Funnyhouse of a Negro (Signature Theatre); IOWA, Antlia Pneumatica (Playwrights Horizons); On the Levee (LCT3). With ERS: The Sound & the Fury; Fondly, Collette Richland (NYTW); Measure for Measure (The Public); Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf (Abrons Art Center); GATZ (Perth Festival)., Regional: A Streetcar Named Desire (Yale Rep). TV: “The Blacklist”, “New Amsterdam” (NBC), “EVIL”, “The Good Fight” (Paramount Plus). Film: Black Card (HBO, Showtime), Fugitive Dreams (FantasiaFest, Cinequest).

Michael Potts is an accomplished actor of stage and screen. In March, he’ll portray Michelle Obama’s father “Frasier C. Robinson III” alongside Viola Davis in Showtime’s critically acclaimed limited series, “The First Lady” and star opposite Melissa Leo in the psychological thriller “Measure For Revenge.” Later this year, Potts takes on the role of civil rights activist “Cleveland Lowellyn "Cleve" Robinson” in Netflix’s historical drama ‘RUSTIN.” In 2020, his portrayal of “Slow Drag” earned him critical acclaim in Netflix’s award-winning, a feature adaptation of August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The film served as Chadwick Bosman’s final acting portrayal. On the stage, he is known for originating the roles of “Mafala Hatimbi” in the 2011 Tony® award-winning musical comedy The Book Of Mormon from Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone as well as the heartwarming “Mr. Hawkins” in the Tony® nominated Broadway musical The Prom. He received critical praise for his role as “Joe Mott” alongside Denzel Washington in the Tony® nominated Eugene O’Neill revival The Iceman Cometh. For his role in Iceman – Potts received the distinguished “Richard Seff Award,” which is presented to veteran actors for their performances in supporting roles both on and off-Broadway. Additionally, he was appointed as the 2018 Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theatre for Fordham University. In 2017, he starred as the notorious gossip “Turnbo” in the Tony® award-winning production of August Wilson’s Jitney, under the direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s. That same year, Potts appeared alongside Olivia Wilde and Tom Sturridge in the stage adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984. Potts is widely recognized for his role opposite Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as “Detective Maynard Gilbough” in the Emmy® Award-winning HBO anthology series “True Detective.” Well versed in producer David Simon’s work, Potts starred opposite Idris Elba as the well-mannered yet feared assassin, “Brother Mouzone” on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “The Wire.” He starred in the HBO six-hour miniseries, “Show Me a Hero,” co-created by David Simon (“The Wire”) and directed by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis. Recurring television roles also include CBS’ “Madam Secretary” and FOX’s “Gotham.” As a graduate the Yale School of Drama, Potts’ extensive theater background has afforded him several performances on New York’s theater stages. Roles in Rent, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, and Richard III garnered him the Falstaff Award for best ‘Male Supporting Performance’ and The Village Voice’s Obie Award for his portrayal in the off-Broadway production of The American Play. Potts originated the role of “Brooks, Sr.” in the Tony® Award-winning play Grey Gardens and additionally the role of “Paul Pierce” in Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures at the Guthrie Theatre. In the regions, Michael has starred in Oedipus, Highway Ulysses, Romeo and Juliet, The Hostage, The Rivals, and was in the original Broadway company of Lennon.  He is an active supporter and contributor of the 52nd Street Project, dedicated to the creation and production of new plays for, and often by, kids between the ages of 9-18 that reside in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in New York City. The organization achieves this goal through a series of unique mentoring programs that match kids with professional theater artists. Potts was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Wisacky, South Carolina. He resides in New York City. 


Audience Rewards is the Official Rewards Program of Broadway, providing membership benefits and rewards for more than 2.7 million members and representing more than a quarter of all Broadway tickets purchased through Ticketmaster and Telecharge. Free and easy to join, Audience Rewards allows buyers to earn ShowPoints on every ticket purchase, to be redeemed for free tickets, theater collectibles, unique experiences, and more. Founded in 2008 by a unique coalition of prominent theater owners, including Nederlander, Shubert, and Jujamcyn, major national presenters, and key performing arts centers from across the country, Audience Rewards has offered members first access presales to more than 100 Broadway shows and 200 VIP experiences and events, which have included a walk-on role in Rock of Ages, a cooking class with Gavin Creel & Celia Keenan-Bolger, celebrity Q&As, backstage tours and much more.




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