NEW YORK - August Wilson’s masterwork ‘The Piano Lesson’ is coming back to Broadway with an A-list cast. Making his Broadway debut: John David Washington (yes Denzel’s son).
He’ll star alongside Oscar-winner Samuel L. Jackson, and Danielle Brooks who starred in ‘Orange is The New Black,’ and was hand-picked by Oprah to play Sofia in the upcoming film adaptation of ‘The Color Purple.’
Brooks plays Berniece in ‘The Piano Lesson,’ and her character wants to hold onto and preserve the family heirloom piano.
"To get to bring to life – the words of August Wilson. One of the greatest of all time means a lot to me. But also be ushered into becoming a "Wilsonite" – you have Sam Jackson, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Epatha Merkerson, Alfre Woodard… the list continues of the greats that have been able to speak the words, and bring them to life."
Helping to bring the show to life: Director, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who gets to direct her husband (Samuel L. Jackson) on stage: "It’s interesting. It’s been a long time since I have worked with him in this fashion. So I think its an opportunity for him to see me in a different way. He’s a professional, so it ends up being kind of an okay working space. He just shows up to go to work. It’s (sometimes) okay."
Someone LaTanya *is* happy to work with – John David Washington, who plays Boy Willie – Berniece’s brash brother who wants to sell the family piano for a better life. Washington reacts to the anticipation of making his Broadway debut: "This is as big as the Chris Nolan’s and the Spike Lee’s (films) I’ve been a part of. This is just as big. Maybe even more so for different reasons. It’s a heck of an opportunity to really express myself as an artist. I know exactly who I am playing based on the brilliant writing of August Wilson."
John David following in Dad's footsteps, as Denzel won a Tony award, and was Oscar nominated in August Wilson's ‘Fences.’ in this August Wilson classic, John David plays Boy Willie - a role that his co-star, Samuel L. Jackson originated for the play's world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theater in 1987. Washington explains what it’s like making his stage debut, alongside Mr. Jackson: "I would compare it to if I got drafted by the Bulls, and Michael Jordan is my teammate. It’s kind of crazy. I’m playing with some of the GOATs."
Mr. Jackson now plays Doaker - the Uncle telling the tale of the family heirloom piano. Jackson reflects on taking on a new role in the same play: "I remember watching the guy who played him (Doaker) when I was doing it (in 1987). Carl Gordon was a good friend of mine. Now I’m trying to get all of those things out of my head. And also watching John David learn who Boy Willie is… and growing as that character… and growing in rehearsal, as LaTanya challenges him in different kinds of ways. So it’s kind of fun to be back!"
In that we’re on the topic of Broadway – we asked Mr. Jackson when we can expect to see ‘Snakes on a Plane – the Motha****** Musical?!" Jackson replied: "That would be… almost never! (laughs) I think it would be great though. Sounds like a fun idea to me."
Previews for August Wilson's ‘The Piano Lesson’ begin September 19th at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.